In as many as 10 seats, Mayawati's BSP and Sharad Pawar's NCP together polled more votes than the margin by which the BJP winner defeated the Congress runner-up. (See chart)
Had these presumed anti-BJP votes gone to the Congress, the final tally would have read: the BJP-led NDA 89 and the Congress camp 90, not 99-80 as it turned out.
That would have meant the Congress was within striking distance of the majority mark of 92. Two Independent winners were party rebels and one victor was an NCP nominee, meaning the anti-BJP voters would have elected 93 MLAs.
An even more radical change sets in if the votes of Independents - several of whom, the Congress alleges, were fielded to hurt the party - are added to that of the BSP and the NCP.
In as many as 17 seats, the threesome (Independents plus BSP plus NCP) polled more votes than the margins of victory clocked by the BJP candidates.
This means that had the Independents, the BSP and the NCP left the field clear to enable a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress, the final tally would have been 97 for the Congress camp and 85 for the rest, including the BJP.
Congress leaders alleged that most Independents had been fielded as part of the BJP's much-vaunted "micro management" in Gujarat.
Take, for instance, Godhra, where the Congress candidate lost by 258 votes. Five Muslim candidates contested in Godhra, splitting the presumed anti-BJP votes and cumulatively polling 4,331 votes, or 4,073 more than the victory margin.
Another tactic was that of persuading namesakes to contest and nibble at votes. In Porbandar, the runner-up Congress candidate Arjunbhai Devabhai Modhvadiya had to contend with Independents such as Modhvadiya Arjanbhai Virambhai and Bokhriya Vastabhai Arjanbhai.
This kind of management requires "a lot of resources", a Congress leader said, hinting at inducements.
-The Telegraph Calcutta
- - - - - - - - - Advertisement- - - - - - - - -