IN A boost for the BJP ahead of the assembly elections next year, the party swept the local body elections in Gujarat on Tuesday, winning 109 of the 126 seats across the state. The Congress managed to get just 17 seats.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hailed the victory as people’s “endorsement” of the Centre’s demonetisation decision.
“BJP’s victory in Gujarat can be seen as people’s endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two recent steps — surgical strikes across LoC and the demonetisation move to wipe out black money from the system,” PTI quoted him as saying.
“This is truly a grand success of BJP as elections took place in different parts of the state, representing people from different communities. Thus, we can say that every section of society accepted BJP,” said Rupani.
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“These results across India illustrate that people want all-round progress of the nation & will not tolerate corruption & misgovernance,” tweeted Modi.
The State Election Commission had announced elections to 134 seats in district panchayats, taluka panchayats and municipalities. But polling was held for only 126 seats on Sunday — polling for four seats was cancelled following court orders, while there were no candidates for four taluka panchayat seats (all reserved).
Of the 126 seats that went to polls, the Vapi and Kanakpur-Kansad municipalities in South Gujarat and mid-term polls in Gondal taluka panchayat in Saurashtra were crucial, and the BJP won all three.
The BJP retained its hold in Vapi municipality of Valsad district, winning 41 of the total 44 seats. It also retained Kanakpur-Kansad municipality of Surat district, winning 27 of the total 28 seats.
The BJP also wrested Gondal taluka from the Congress, winning 18 of the total 22 seats. Gondal taluka had become a prestige battle for the BJP and Congress as, within a year of the election last November, mid-term polls had to be held.
The mid-term polls were held after the Gujarat government superseded the panchayat board on June 20, as the Congress failed to pass the budget for the taluka panchayat thrice.
The Congress had won 12 of the 22 seats in the Gondal taluka panchayat elections last November. But one of its members cross-voted in the subsequent elections for the post of president and vice-president of the panchayat. This resulted in a tie, with both Congress and BJP candidates securing 11 votes each. So lots were drawn, and the Congress won the post of president while the BJP got the post of vice-president. The Congress member continued to cross-vote at budget meetings also.
The poll panel also conducted 18 bypolls in various municipalities across the state. The BJP won 15 of these seats. Bypolls were also held for five district panchayat seats (the BJP won three) and nine taluka panchayat seats (the BJP won five).
“We accept our defeat. But BJP must not forget that it was only bypolls in some seats. The results of these polls cannot be taken as the litmus test of people’s mood. We will introspect on these results. We will continue to raise issues concerning people,” Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi was quoted as saying by PTI.