The BJP emerged the winner in the battle for Gujarat, winning 99 of the 182 assembly seats on offer, but the Congress had a clear upper hand as far as assembly seats, which are home to famous temples, are concerned. In fact, the Congress won more than twice such seats as compared with the BJP.While the BJP retained Dwarka, Jetpur (home to Khodaldham temple) and Halol (home to Pavagadh) seats, the Congress swept the other holy towns such as Somnath, Becharaji, among others.In Somnath, Congress candidate Vimal Chudasama defeated minister and BJP nominee Jasha Barad by a margin of 20,000 votes. It was at the historic Somnath temple in Somnath that the controversy over Congress president Rahul Gandhi being listed as a non-Hindu in a register had erupted.In Junagadh, which is home to Girnar, senior BJP MLA Mahendra Mashru suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Congress candidate Bhikhabhai Joshi. Joshi won with a little over 6,000 votes.The Congress also came up trumps in Thasra, where the famous Dakor temple is situated. The party’s candidate Kanti Parmar defeated Amul chairman and six-time MLA Ramsinh Parmar by over 7,000 votes.Becharaji, home to the Bechraji Mata temple, saw former home minister and BJP MLA Rajnikant Patel losing to Congress’s Bharat Thakor with a margin of over 12,000 votes.In Chotila, Congress’s Rutvik Makwana defeated BJP’s Zinabhai Dervaliya by a margin of over 22,000 votes. Makwana got 77,992 votes, as against 55,305 for Dervaliya.The Congress also won from the tribal reserved seat of Vansda in south Gujarat, where the Unai Mata temple is located. Anant Patel, the Congress candidate, won against Ganpat Mahla of BJP by over 18,000 votes.Danta (ST) seat in Banaskantha, home to the Ambaji temple, saw sitting MLA and Congress candidate Kanti Kharadi defeating BJP’s Malji Kodarvi by a margin of close to 25,000 votes. Incidentally, prime minister Narendra Modi had offered prayers at Ambaji temple on the last day of campaigning.Unjha constituency in Mehsana, where the Umiya Mata temple is situated, saw five-time BJP MLA Narayan Patel biting the dust against Congress’s Dr Asha Patel. Narayan Patel lost with a margin of 19,500 votes.BJP also had to face reverses in Abdasa seat, where the famous Ashapura temple is situated. Congress’s Pradhyumansinh Jadeja defeated BJP’s Chhabil Patel by a margin of over 12,000 votes.In Jamjodhpur, home to Umiya Mata temple in Sidsar, Congress’s Chirag Kalariya beat minister Chiman Sapariya with a margin of 2,500 votes.The BJP won four seats where famous temples are situated.Minister Jayesh Radadiya won from Jetpur seat, which is home to Khodaldham temple at Kagvad, by defeating Congress’s Ravi Ambaliya with a margin of over 25,000 votesIn Dwarka, sitting MLA and BJP candidate Pabubha Manek won by defeating Congress’s Meraman Ahir by over 5,700 votes.Minister Jaydrathsinh Parmar also emerged the winner from Halol seat, where the famous Pavagadh temple is located. Parmar defeated Congress’s Udesinh Baria by over 57,000 votes.BJP snatched Palitana seat from Congress in the polls. The party’s candidate Bhikha Baraiya defeated sitting MLA and Congress’s Pravin Rathod by over 14,200 votes from the holy town.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Congress sweeps holy towns; wins 10 of 14 seats