BJP candidate Mohan Konkani wrested the Scheduled Tribe (ST) seat of Vyara in Tapi district of Gujarat by defeating four-time Congress MLA Punabhai Gamit, who was pushed to the third position due to an impressive show put up by new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The Vyara Assembly seat, which gave Gujarat its first tribal chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary, for the first time witnessed a contest between two Christian candidates fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress.
Gamit, who currently represented this assembly segment, had won the Assembly polls four times in a row starting from a byelection in 2004.
BJP’s Konkani won by a margin of 22,760 votes over his nearest rival from the AAP, Bipin Chaudhari.
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Konkani polled 69,024 votes, while Chaudhari received 46,264 votes. Congress’ Gamit bagged 43,718 votes.
Gamit was banking on the works he did in his constituency as an MLA and the traditional support that the party enjoyed in the region. The BJP successfully attempted to woo the tribal voters by showing a number of development projects carried out by the ruling party in the eastern belt of Gujarat.
The entry of AAP damaged Gamit’s prospects of winning the seat for the fifth term.
Gamit had first won the by-election on the seat in 2004, necessitated after sitting MLA and Amarsinh Chaudhary’s son Tushar Chaudhary won the Lok Sabha election from Mandvi seat.
Of the total 2.20 lakh voters from the seat, a sizable 40,000 are Christians. Most of the Christians have converted from the tribal communities of Gamit, Chaudhary and Konkani. The seat went to polls in the first phase of election on December 1.
Roughly, there are 88,000 voters from the Gamit community, 67,000 from Chaudhary and 13,000 from Konkani.