Month after bridge collapse, BJP wins Morbi by more than 62,000 votes

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Kantilal Amrutiya BJP Morgi Gujarat

Morbi: The collapse of a suspension bridge in Gujarat's Morbi town that claimed 135 lives did not affect the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) winning streak in the constituency as its candidate won by more than 62,000 votes.


Five-time MLA Kantilal Amrutiya's victory margin on Thursday was almost 15 times that of Brijesh Merja who had won by 4,600 votes in the 2020 byelection on a BJP ticket.

This time, Amrutiya managed to win more than 1.14 lakh votes, while his closest rival, the Congress's Jayantilal Patel, received 52,000 and the Aam Aadmi Party's Pankaj Ransariya got nearly 17,500 votes.

Amrutiya shot to nationwide fame when videos showing him jumping into the river to rescue people after the bridge collapse on October 30 went viral. He was hailed as “Morbi hero”.


While Amrutiya had won from Morbi five times in the past (he had lost in 2017 and 2020), Congress's Jayantilal Patel had lost five times to his BJP rivals earlier.

The contest turned triangular this time with the AAP fielding Ransariya, a Patidar like the other two.

Morbi, dominated by Patidar voters, is considered to be a BJP stronghold.


Tragedy struck the town on October 30, 2022 when a British-era suspension bridge on the Machchhu river collapsed, killing 135 people.

As it occurred ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections, it was believed that the ruling BJP would face some electoral consequences.

Sensing that Amrutiya's popularity following his rescue act could come in handy, the BJP dropped sitting MLA Merja, a former minister, and fielded Amrutiya who was otherwise not in the reckoning for a ticket as per party sources.


During the campaign, the Congress tried to corner the BJP government on the bridge collapse and alleged that the saffron party was shielding the "real culprits".

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the state government at a rally in Rajkot in November, alleging that it did not take any concrete action against the real culprits of the Morbi tragedy.

He even alleged that the BJP had good relations with those responsible for the bridge collapse.


"Supporting the corrupt and criminals — this is the BJP's model of corruption and commission," he had tweeted.

A Forensic Science Laboratory report held that the bridge had not be repaired properly by the company which had been given the contract to maintain and operate it.

But the adverse publicity did not affect Amrutiya's chances, as seen from the election result.


Amrutiya, better known as Kanabhai, had won from Morbi in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012.

In 2017, Merja, then with the Congress, defeated Amrutiya by a thin margin of 3,419 votes, riding on the anti-BJP wave in Morbi which was a key centre of the Patidar quota agitation.

In 2012, Amrutiya had defeated Merja by 2,760 votes.

Considered to be a suave and well-educated leader, Merja left the Congress in 2020 and joined the ruling BJP. In the subsequent byelection, he managed to defeat the Congress old-timer Jayantilal Patel by 4,649 votes.

Morbi has nearly 2.9 lakh registered voters, including 80,000 Patidars, 35,000 Muslims, 30,000 Dalits, 30,000 Sathwaras, 12,000 Ahirs and 20,000 Thakor-Kolis. Sathwara, Ahir and Thakor-Koli are Other Backward Class (OBC) communities.