As political parties across Gujarat come to grips with the developing dynamics in the state in the wake of the Assembly elections, they can turn to one constituency that has always served as a guide of the emerging trend in the state.
Valsad, just south of Surat on the coast of the Arabian Sea, is kind of a pacesetter for all political parties. Whoever wins the Valsad Lok Sabha seat ends up forming the government at the Centre, such has been the pattern since Independence.
The Valsad Assembly segment, too, has had a similar record.
A look at the list of winners in Valsad since 1975 reveals that this assembly seat is Gujarat’s bellwether seat — where Valsad leads, Gujarat follows.
In 1975, Keshavbhai Ratanji Patel, the National Congress (Organizational) candidate won the election here. That year, the NCO-Jana Sangh coalition unseated the Congress in the state.
In 1980, Dolatrai Desai won the seat and his party, the Congress, returned to power. In 1985, Desai fought as an independent and lost to Congress candidate Barjorji Pardiwala and the Congress won another term in the state.
Desai returned to Valsad in 1990, but this time as a BJP candidate and a BJP-Janata Dal coalition won the state.
Desai won again in 1995 and Keshubhai Patel became the first BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat. Desai won the seat again in 1998, 2002 and 2007 – all elections that the BJP won. In 2012, his seat passed on to BJP leader Bharatbhai Patel and once again, the BJP retained power in the state.