The BJP today looked set to retain power in Gujarat, as the party won 15 seats and was leading in 85 others, leaving the main rival Congress behind in the bitterly-fought elections to the 182-member Assembly.
The Congress has so far bagged 15 seats and was ahead in 62. The NCP and the Bhartiya Tribal Party won a seat each. Two independents were also leading. The BJP, which has been in power in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state uninterruptedly since 1998, last time had won 115 seats while the Congress had 61.
To form a government in the state, a party or a coalition needs at least 92 seats in the 182-member Assembly. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani retained the Rajkot West seat by defeating Congress' Indranil Rajyaguru by 54,300 votes. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel was also ahead of Congress candidate Jivabhai Patel in Mehsana. Among other prominent winners were BJP leader and Fisheries Minister Babubhai Bokhiriya, who defeated senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia in Porbandar.
BJP's Suresh Patel held the prestigious Maninagar seat, the former constituency of Modi, by defeating Congress candidate Shweta Brahmbhatt by 75,199 votes. In Mahuva seat of Bhavnagar, BJP's Raghav Makwana defeated independent Kanu Kalsaria. The BJP also won the Umbergaon seat in Valsad. The Congress won Mahudha seat in Kheda district where its nominee Indrajitsinh Parmar defeated BJP's Bharatsinh Parmar by 13,601 votes.
Congress' Alpesh Thakor is leading in Radhanpur seat against Lavingji Thakor of BJP. Senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil is trailing against BJP's Virendrasinh Jadeja from Mandvi seat. State BJP chief Jitu Vaghani is leading over Dilipsinh Gohil of Congress in Bhavnagar West. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who is contesting from Vadgam seat as an independent with Congress' support, is leading over BJP candidate Vijay Chakravarti.
The elections for the 182-seat Assembly were held on December 9 and 14, after an acrimonious campaign, which was dominated by a face-off between Prime Minister Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress emerged victorious in 61 seats. The BJP has won every election since 1995 in the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. However, it was out of power for a couple of years due to party infighting and rebellion by Shankersinh Vaghela.
The saffron party came back to power in 1998, and has ruled uninterrupted since then.