The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which fell one short of a ton in the Gujarat Assembly elections, on Friday managed to reach the three-figure mark with the support of an independent, who was actually from the Congress.
Ratansinh Rathore, the newly-elected independent legislator from Lunawada constituency, has sent a letter to the Governor of Gujarat, O.P. Kohli, declaring his intent of lending support to the BJP government.
Rathore was a Congressman for over two decades, but was denied a ticket to contest from Lunawada constituency by the grand old party. The Congress instead fielded Paranjayadityasinhji Parmar for the seat. Rathore therefore decided to contest independently. Rathore was later expelled from the Congress as he had refused to withdraw his nomination from the election.
Rathore won the election, beating the nearest BJP rival Manojkumar Patel by a margin of 3,200 votes, fetching 55,098 votes. Paranjayadityasinhji Parmar came third with 47,093 votes.
There were also whispers that another independent Bhupendrasinh Khant, winner of the Morva Hadaf constituency seat, would be lending support to the BJP. Khant, however, later denied having taken any such decision.
Other than the ruling BJP party with 99 seats and the opposition Congress with 77, only three candidates have won the state assembly elections as independents. Two seats were won by the newly-formed Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) led by tribal strongman Chhotubhai Vasava.
The third independent candidate is Dalit agitation leader Jignesh Mevani, who won from Vadgam with support from Congress. He has already made his intent clear of not joining any political party and instead remain the lone ‘activist’ voice in the Assembly.