The recently concluded Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were not just about the most obvious gains and losses of the two major parties. The contest between the BJP and the Congress was more interesting for the manner in which they won and lost seats.

The BJP lost 32 of the seats it had won in the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections to the Congress in the latest poll, but it managed to contain its losses by wresting 15 seats from the Congress.

Seat share

Higher losses than gains lowered the BJP tally in the new Gujarat Assembly to 99 seats from the 115 it has in the House that will be dissolved soon. The Congress, in contrast, saw its seat share climb to 77 from 61.

Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, the rout in the Assembly elections notwithstanding, the Congress managed to wrest six seats from the BJP. But then anti-incumbency in the State ensured that the BJP managed to wrest 23 seats from the Congress to win 44 seats in the 68-seat Assembly. The Congress tally plunged to 21 seats from 36.

The Assembly elections also saw a widening of the margin of victory in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. In Gujarat, the margin of victory widened in 101 constituencies and in Himachal Pradesh, it widened in 38 seats.

One of the reasons for the larger margins is the more emphatic win for the BJP candidates. Another reason is the increase in actual number of people voting.

At the same time, the margin of victory declined in 81 constituencies in Gujarat and in 30 constituencies in Himachal Pradesh. A larger number of seats with narrower margin was won by the Congress in both States. (See graphic)

While the margin of victory in Gujarat was the widest in Ghatlodia, where Bhupendrabhai Patel of the BJP won with 117,750 votes more than the next candidate, it was in Choryasi where this difference between the votes polled by the winner and the next candidate increased the most. In Assembly poll 2012, the BJP won the seat with a margin of 67,638 votes. This time, the party won with a margin was 110,819 votes.

Advantage BJP

In comparison, in Himachal Pradesh, sitting BJP MLA Vinod Kumar saw his margin of victory widen the most. In the last elections, he won with a margin of 3,031 votes and this time, as the tide turned in the BJP’s favour, he won with a margin on 15,896 votes.

In most of the constituencies in Gujarat where the margin of victory was extremely narrow, the number of votes cast for NOTA was multiple times the margin.

For instance, in Kaprada, the margin of victory was only 170 votes. NOTA, in comparison, got 3,868 votes. Similarly, in Godhra, the margin of victory was only 258 votes while NOTA got 3,050 votes.

In Himachal Pradesh, where the share of NOTA was far lesser than in Gujarat, in many instances, the number of votes cast for NOTA was almost equal to the margin of victory. For instance, in Dalhousie, where the margin of victory was 556 votes, NOTA got 569. In Kasauli, where the margin of victory was 442 votes, NOTA got 503 and in Barsar, where the Congress candidate won with a margin of 439 votes, NOTA got 464.