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Thursday, April 22, 2021

BJP sweeps Gujarat local body polls, state Congress chief, Oppn leader quit

Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition in Assembly Paresh Dhanani resigned from their posts owning up to the debacle.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
March 2, 2021 9:25:48 pm
gujarat local body election, bjpCelebrations outside the BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar on Tuesday after local body election results. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

After winning big in six municipal corporations in Gujarat, the BJP swept the elections to district panchayats, taluka panchayats and municipalities in the state, as results came in on Tuesday.

The Congress, which had made significant gains in 2015 elections to these local bodies, stood vanquished – Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition in Assembly Paresh Dhanani resigned from their posts owning up to the debacle.

As the results started coming in, indicating a clear BJP victory, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state BJP president C R Paatil reached party headquarters – Shree Kamalam in Gandhinagar – in the afternoon to celebrate. Addressing the media, they said the BJP was likely to win all 31 district panchayats.

Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Results of the Nagar Palika, Taluka Panchayat and District Panchayat polls across Gujarat give a crystal clear message- Gujarat is firmly with the BJP’s agenda of development and good governance. I bow to the people of Gujarat for the unwavering faith and affection towards BJP”.

Rupani told party workers, “BJP’s saffron flag now flies high in the elections of panchayats and nagarpalikas in Gujarat. Earlier, there were speculations that the BJP has presence in cities but will not get votes/seats in villages. But we have got result even better than in cities. (We are going to win) 31 out of 31 district panchayats. At some places we are winning entire nagarpalikas…”

The elections were held on 980 seats of 31 district panchayats, 4774 seats of taluka panchayats and 2720 seats of 81 municipalities. Of these, 239 seats were declared elected uncontested; 219 of them were by BJP candidates.

By 6 pm, out of 980 seats in the 31 district panchayats, the BJP had won 775 seats. The Congress won 164, Independents two, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) two, BSP one, and four seats went to others.

Of 4,774 seats of 231 taluka panchayats, BJP won 3262 seats and the Congress 1,209. Independents won on 112 seats, AAP on 31, and others on 16 seats.

In 81 municipalities, elections were held on 2,720 seats. Of them, BJP has won 2,043 seats, the Congress 378, Independents won on 169 seats, AAP on nine, BSP on six and others won on 24 seats.

Paatil termed the victory as a result of party workers’ connect with voters and works done by the government. Referring to the 2015 results of the panchayats, when Congress had won 23 out of 31district panchayats and around 145 out of 230 taluka panchayats, he said, “The damage done to the BJP in the elections of local bodies in 2015 has been offset (by the people) in the current elections with interest…Today, BJP is leading on all 31 district panchayatsa nd we are looking at a possibility of winning all 31 district panchayats. Similar result is visible in the taluka panchayats and municipalities.”

The results saw several prominent politicians or their relatives from the Congress beinbg trounced. Congress MLA from Petlad Niranjan Patel was contesting in Petlad nagarpalika, and lost. Similarly, Congress chief whip in Assembly Aswhin Kotwal’s son, Yash, lost Itavadi from seat of Vijaynagar taluka panchayat. Senior Congress MLA Anil Joshiyara’s son, Keval, also lost from Bhiloda taluka panchayat on Upsal seat. Congress working president Hardik Patel, urged all candidates who “who won or lost” to press themselves in the service of people “from tomorrow itself”. He said in a statement, “In the coming days Congress party will become a strong opposition and take its struggle to the streets, and win back the confidence of the people. From the streets to the Vidhan Sabha Congress will prove to be a leading opposition party”.

In the current elections, AAP and AIMIM were contesting for the first time. While AAP has made inroads in Saurashtra and some other parts of the state, AIMIM has emerged as the main opposition party in Modasa municipality of Aravalli district by winning nine seats. AIMIM has also won six seats in Godhra municipality of Panchamahals district.

Stating that “many stalwarts” have faced defeat, Rupani said, “Even (Congress) MLA Niranjan Patel lost in Petlad…Chhotubhai Vasava’s son also lost. Relatives many leaders have lost. The anger with people of Gujarat have defeated Congressmen; it shows that Gujarat is a BJP bastion.”

Rupani said that no party has ever got such results in Gujarat.

Rupani said, “In 2017, we won (and) formed the government. (We) won all 26 seats in Lok Sabha. In 2020, (we) snatched all eight Assembly seats (that went to by-elections) from Congress bastions. And now, in the beginning of 2021, we have won all these district panchayats, taluka panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations. This (victory) has laid the foundation for formation of BJP government in 2022 (Assembly elections)…”

Rupani called Congress a sinking boat while also refuting to consider of AAP as an emerging opposition in the state. On AAP, which won around 16 seats in taluka panchayats, he said, “Out of 5000 seats, if they win 16 seats, will it be called a victory? So, everyone has been wiped off. People have not considered any party as opposition party. Victory on 16 seats out of 5000 seats is negligible. Every time, (some) independents also get elected (like this).”

Paatil added that these results he could foresee during his campaigning. “During my 31 public meetings and 18 rallies, I could feel it. And on the basis of that I believed that BJP will win in all 31 district panchayats,” Paatil said.

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