New Delhi: BJP strongman Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister and India’s one of the most celebrated statesman, has hit a third consecutive victory in the state assembly polls. But at the same time this is the sixth embarrassing defeat of the Congress since 1990.

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The 1985 Gujarat assembly polls were held in the backdrop of the assassination of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in which Congress had witnessed a landslide victory by winning 149 seats out of 182 and Madhavsinh Solanki led Congress government was voted back to power. But this victory proved to be the last one for the Congress in the state, though; it managed to grab power by indulging in politics of manipulation.

Corruption charges against the Congress in the backdrop of Bofors scam emerged as the main issue in this election in which Janata Dal had won 70 seats while BJP won 67 seats. Congress saw the most humiliating defeat by getting confined to mere 33 seats. A few months back, VP Singh led Janata Dal government had come to power by ousting Rajiv Gandhi led previous government at the Centre towards the end of 1989. JD-BJP combine formed government in Gujarat under the leadership of Chimanbhai Patel of Janata Dal.

This coalition could not survive for long and broke within a year after which Chimanbhai managed to stay in power with the help of Congress and finally he merged Gujarat unit of Janata Dal into Congress Party and Congress returned to power in the state from back door. Chimanbhai led a Congress government in the state till his death in early 1994. Following the death of Chimanbhai Patel, senior state Congress leader Chhabildas Mehta became Chief Minister of Gujarat and headed a Congress government till March 1995 when BJP decisively defeated Congress and won a clear majority by winning 121 seats in 182-member Gujarat Assembly and Keshubhai Patel became the Chief Minister while Congress could win only 45 seats in the House. Within six months of the BJP assuming power in the state, a rebellion cropped up within state party unit putting a question mark on the stability of the government.

The revolt was led by Shankersinh Vaghela, the then BJP MP from Gujarat’s Kapadvanj. Vaghela was estranged with Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and insisted on his ouster alleging that the CM was running the government arbitrarily and the then BJP general secretary Narendra Modi was acting as super CM in the state. Vaghela enjoyed the support of over 40 BJP MLAs enough to topple BJP government in the state. Succumbing to Vaghela’s pressure, BJP’s central leadership agreed to replace Patel with Suresh Mehta, a senior Cabinet Minister in Patel-led state government.

Suresh Mehta government again witnessed crisis when Vaghela finally defected from BJP and launched new political outfit Rashtriya Janata Party toppling Suresh Mehta government in September 1996. After President’s rule in the state for one-month, Vaghela became Chief Minister in October 1996 with the outside support of Congress. As soon as Vaghela completed one in power, Congress pressed for his replacement leading to appointment of Dilipbhai Ramanbhai Parikh, Vaghela’s confidant, as the new Chief Minister of the state in October 1997. Dilip Parikh government could not last longer and the Congress withdrew support after a few months paving way for fresh assembly polls in March 1998 when BJP won 117 seats and was again voted back to power. Congress remained contented with just 53 seats. Keshubhai Patel was appointed the Chief Minister who led the BJP government in the state till October 2001 when the party’s Central leadership decided to replace him with Narendra Modi.

BJP fought December 2002 assembly polls in the backdrop of post Godhra riots. BJP swept polls by winning 127 seats whereas the Congress could get just 53 seats. This was the first assembly election under Narendra Modi’s chief ministership. Political analysts termed BJP’s victory a result of polarization of votes on communal lines.

The assembly election of December 2007 was a litmus test for the Chief Minister Narendra Modi and winning 117 seats, Modi proved his political as well as administrative acumen after which a section of BJP leaders began to project him as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Modi repeated his success story again in 2012 assembly polls by winning 115 seats and keeping the Congress at bay from returning to power. Congress’ dream to win majority in the state assembly has become a far-fetched reality.                       

(Mrityunjay Singh/ JPN)

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