Congress candidates were elected president and vice-president of the Rajkot District Panchayat after the BJP decided not to contest the polls.
Paddhari councillor Kanta Mendarpara and rebel BJP candidate from Wankaner taluka,Navghan Meghani,were elected president and vice-president of the district panchayat respectively.
The SC had ordered fresh elections for the district panchayat in November 2008. But the development commissioner gave permission to hold elections only after the HC issued a showcause notice for contempt of court on Jan 20.
The Congress had alleged that the state government did not want to hold elections,as the BJP had failed to win a majority in the panchayat elections despite resorting to horse trading and misuse of state administrative powers. Rajkot District Panchayat is among those few panchayats in the state where the BJP has been losing to Congress for the last couple of terms.
With 22 members in a house of 37,Congress,which came to power for the third consecutive term in 2005,was rocked after the BJP managed to pull away six Congress councillors in January 2008 to its camp. It resulted into a complicated power-sharing equation by which the BJP had a majority in various committees while Congress candidates were the president and vice-president of the panchayat. It put a question mark on the fate of the development projects worth over Rs 40 crore. The power-sharing arrangement changed again in August 2008 when Meghani,along with seven other BJP members,revolted against the party leadership by joining Congress.
Congress president Bhavna Balgha tried to pass a resolution to dissolve the committees ruled by the BJP,but it was called off by the development commissioner,who also ordered suspension of Balgha and vice-president Hardevsinh Jadeja in a land scam.
The Congress then moved the Supreme Court to demand fresh elections. The apex court gave its verdict in favour of the party. Meghani,along with seven BJP rebels,had allegedly gone underground for over a week to avoid last-minute horse trading by the BJP. The Congress offered the vice-president post to Meghani to get support from other rebels.