The BJP snatched Gondal taluka panchayat back from Congress in the mid-term elections, results for which were announced on Tuesday. The BJP returned to power in less than a year after it was defeated by Congress in the general election to the panchayat body last year during the height of Patidar quota agitation.
Polling for all 22 seats of Gondal taluka panchayat in Rajkot was held Sunday and the counting of votes was taken up Tuesday. In the results of the counting, BJP won 18 seats while the Congress could manage only four. Congress had unseated the BJP in the general election to the taluka panchayat last November.
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In the mid-term election, Congress won Moviya-1, Moviya-2, Shreenathgadh and Ghoghavadar seats, all dominated by Patidars. Congress had repeated four of its 12 candidates who had won in 2015. But only Bhagwatsinh Vaghela, who was elected president of the 2015 board of the taluka panchayat, could retain his seat from Sreenathgadh while Jagruti Padmani, Rambhai Gamara and Vrajlal Bhasa lost. On the other hand, BJP had repeated seven of its 10 members and all won. The winners included former vice-president Siddhrajsinh Jadeja.
Despite winning in 2015, Congress struggled to control the panchayat board from day one. Aruna Thummar, who was elected from Kamadhiya seat on a Congress ticket, defected to the BJP at the election of president and vice-president of the panchayat. This resulted in both Congress and BJP candidates getting 11 votes each. To break the tie, a draw of lots was conducted in which the post of president went to Congress while BJP won the vice-president’s post. Congress’ struggle continued as Thummar, wife of BJP worker Ahswin Thummar, who had deserted BJP during quota agitation, voted against Congress in two budget meetings. Consequently, Congress failed to pass budget for 2016-17 of the taluka panchayat in three attempts and the state government eventually superseded the taluka panchayat on June 20 this year.
Dinesh Chovatiya, president of Rajkot Congress, claimed his party suffered defeat due to the pressure tactics of the BJP. Mukesh Mandanka, president of Gondal taluka unit of Congress, said he suspected EVMs. But the BJP leaders trashed allegations of EVM-tempering. “Congress levels such allegations after every poll defeat. If tempering was possible, we could have won 18 seats last year also. The demonetisation played in our favour,” said Alpesh Dholariya, president of Gondal taluka unit of the BJP.
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