Gandhinagar: Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, two key hopes for the Congress in Gujarat, have both won their seats.
Jignesh Mevani, contesting as an independent with support from the Congress, won from Vadgam. Alpesh Thakor, 40, was trailing initially but picked up soon to take a lead in Radhanpur, one of the largest constituencies in Gujarat.
Jignesh and Alpesh, along with Hardik Patel – the face of the Patel or Patidar campaign – form the troika that the Congress pinned its hopes on this time.
Hardik Patel is the only one who didn’t contest; at 24 he is still too young to do so.
The Congress supported Jignesh Mevani, a Dalit leader, by not fielding a candidate against the 35-year-old. Jignesh’s rival Lavingji Thakor was in the Congress earlier but joined the BJP after he was denied a ticket by the Congress.
Yesterday, Jignesh rubbished predictions of a BJP victory and said: “Exit Polls are nonsense. BJP is definitely going to lose this time and will not form the government.”
The Congress recruited Alpesh Thakor, a backward caste leader, ahead of the polls to try and win the support of the state’s 30 per cent OBCs or Other Backward Castes.
During campaigning, Mr Thakor was derided when he suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had glowing skin because he had mushrooms from Taiwan every day.
This morning, an hour into counting of votes, it was a close fight in Gujarat. But the BJP soon picked up pace and is set to win, though by a lower margin of victory than 2012.
Gujarat has 182 assembly seats and a party needs 92 or more to form government.