In a big boost to the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections, the party managed to retain power in Diu municipal council by sweeping 10 of the 13 seats in the civic body while the BJP could manage only three. The BJP suffered a jolt as its vice-president Kirit Vaja, who was face of the poll, was also defeated and he resigned from his post hours later. In the counting of votes held at Padmabhushan Complex, Congress candidates were declared winners in 10 wards. Barring Ward number 1, 2 and 4, candidates of the ruling party prevailed. Hitesh Solanki, the incumbent president of the municipal council also won from Ward 7 by defeating Jitendra Baraiya of the BJP by 598 votes in a two-way tie.
In another high-profile contest, Kirit Vaja, the vice-president of Daman and Diu union territory unit of the BJP lost to Mansuclal Carsane of the Congress with a narrow margin of 17 votes. Vaja was the face of the BJP in this election as the party was bidding to return to power in the civic body after 14 years. However, he lost the poll as two Independents accounted for 27 votes cumulatively.
Vaja had won from Ward 2 in the Diu municipal council election in 2012 as a Congress candidate. However, he had defected to the BJP in late 2013 and the saffron party had made him vice president of the UT unit. After the defeat of the BJP in the municipal council poll, Vaja tendered his resignation from the post of vice-president on Monday.
“I feel we failed to take the message of good work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to people. We accept the mandate of the public. Taking moral responsibility for the defeat of the party, I have decided to step down from the post of vice-president and has tendered my resignation to our president Gopal Tandel. However, I shall continue to work as a worker of the BJP,” Vaja told The Indian Express.
On the other hand, Congress took out a victory procession in the town in the evening. “We are happy with the results of the election. People have voted us back to power due to our good work. Our tally could have been 11 but for police action against husband of one of our candidates at the instance of BJP president just couple of days before polling,” Solanki said.
Incidentally, Vaja was arrested by police in April this year for allegedly raising slogans against local administration after the authorities sealed bars and pubs along the highway following a directive from the Supreme Court. On the other hand, CBI had booked Solanki and his wife for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income in November last year.
Polling for the 13 seats of the municipal council was held on Saturday and 72.76 per cent turnout was recorded. Out of the total 19,625 registered voters, 14, 280 had exercised their franchise. Barring the Ward 6, Congress candidates won with hefty margins in 10 wards. However, the reuslt was a net gain for the BJP as its tally increased from two in 2012 poll to three this time round. An independent had won in the 2012 election.
Bipin Shah, president president of Diu district unit of the BJP said the party went wrong somewhere. “We accept the verdict of voters and concede that we went wrong somewhere. We have served public despite not being in the power here. But we went wrong somewhere and we shall introspect on it,” said Shah.Incidentally, the BJP is ruling the Diu district panchayat.