The Gujarat State Election Commission (GSEC) on Thursday began counting of votes for nearly 9,000 gram panchayats, which went to polls earlier this week. Since the polling was done through ballot papers, the counting was relatively slow and till evening only around 50 per cent results were declared.
Gram panchayat elections are not fought on party symbols, yet both BJP and Congress claimed that majority of winning candidates were supporters of their parties.
Congress claimed that around 70 per cent winning candidates were either Congress members or party supporters. Whereas, BJP said that more than 80 per cent winners were devoted to the saffron party.
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BJP, in fact, announced conventions for elected sarpanches at different places across the state. Congress, on the other hand, declared that they would hold training programmes for its sarpanches.
Secretary of GSEC M V Joshi said, “The counting is still on and it is hard tell when will it conclude.” There was 80.12 per cent polling.
Addressing the media, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said out of 1,431 winners for the post of sarpanches till 2 pm, 966 were either members or supporters of Congress.
Solanki said that Congress supporters won 65 per cent of sarpanch posts in Saurashtra, 76 per cent in north Gujarat, 70 per cent in central Gujarat and 65 per cent in south Gujarat regions.
He credited the ‘victory’ to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s farmers rally in Mehsana on December 21.
“The village panchayat election was ‘Rahul vs Modi’ fight in which Rahul emerged victorious,” claimed Solanki.
“BJP spent a lot of money on panchayat elections, but they lost it badly… It is peoples’ response to (Narendra) Modi’s notebandi (demonetisation),” he said.
Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani, however, claimed that more than 80 per cent winners from among the declared results were devoted to his party. He added that the number of winning BJP candidates in the gram panchayat elections was a reflection of people’s support to the Prime Minister’s decision of ‘’notebandi”.