Gujarat Bypolls: Congress turncoat, BJP’s Arjun wins Porbandar seat

The counting of votes for the Porbandar by-election concluded after 18 rounds, with Modhwadia garnering 1,33,163 votes. His nearest rival, Congress candidate Raju Bhima Odedara, managed only 16,355 votes.

| Updated: 06 June, 2024 1:54 pm IST

NEW DELHI: In Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace, Arjun Modhwadia, the veteran Congress leader who defected to the ruling BJP in March 2024, won the bypoll to the Porbandar Assembly seat by a historic margin. Modhwadia, who resigned as MLA from Porbandar before switching to the BJP, secured a victory margin of over 1.16 lakh votes, the highest ever in the constituency’s history.

The counting of votes for the Porbandar by-election concluded after 18 rounds, with Modhwadia garnering 1,33,163 votes. His nearest rival, Congress candidate Raju Bhima Odedara, managed only 16,355 votes. This significant win came after a total of 1,54,834 votes were cast, marking a 57.99 percent turnout in the bypoll held on May 7, 2024, which coincided with Phase 3 of the Lok Sabha election.

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Modhwadia’s defection and subsequent victory represent a major shift in voter sentiment in Porbandar. In the previous general election to the Gujarat Assembly in December 2022, Modhwadia, then a Congress candidate, had defeated his long-time rival Babu Bokhiria by 8,181 votes, securing 49.34 percent of the total valid votes. However, in the recent bypoll, his vote share soared to 86 percent, while the Congress’s share plummeted to 10.56 percent.

The bypoll was necessitated by Modhwadia’s resignation from the Congress and the State Assembly on March 4, 2024. His switch to the BJP was a strategic move, coming just as the Gujarat Congress was preparing for Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. Modhwadia had criticised the Congress for being out of touch with reality, referring to its leadership as “kalmi amba” (grafted mango trees) who had not experienced grassroots struggles.

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In Gujarat’s Vijapur assembly seat C.J. Chavda of the BJP won the bypolls by a margin of 56228. While Dineshbhai Tulsibhai Patel of Congress managed to secure only 44,413 votes, BJP’s Chavda got 100641 votes. Arvind Ladani, another Congress defector also won the bypoll for the Manavadar Assembly seat in Junagadh district. Ladani, now a BJP nominee, secured 31016 votes defeating his Congress opponent Haribhai Kansagra by 51,001 votes.

Ladani’s political journey mirrors Modhwadia in many ways. He defeated Jawahar Chawda in the 2022 Assembly election, only to resign and join the BJP in March 2024, prompting a bypoll. Chawda, a former Congress leader who defected to the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, had won the Manavadar bypoll in 2019, only to lose to Ladani in 2022.

Both the Porbandar and Manavadar Assembly seats fall under the Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency, where the BJP has fielded Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, replacing the sitting MP Ramesh Dhaduk.

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