February 27, 2021 9:59:11 pm
Around 3.04 crore voters will Sunday cast their votes to elect representatives on 8,473 seats in the 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats across the state, results for which will be declared on March 2.
The civic elections were due in November last, but the State Election Commission (SEC) had postponed them owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Elections to the 28 municipalities, whose term ended in February, will also go to polls Sunday.
Elections to these bodies were last held in 2015 when the Congress posted an impressive victory by winning 23 of the 31 district panchayats and around 145 of the 230 taluka panchayats. The BJP had managed to keep its hold on the municipalities, where the Congress could win only 15 of the 53 that had gone to polls that year. The Congress had then managed to dent the disenchanted Patidar vote bank on account of the churning within the community following the 2015 quota agitation led by Hardik Patel, who is currently the working president of the state Congress.
The BJP, however, wrested four of the 23 district panchayats that Congress had won in 2015. By December 2020, the BJP also took control of around 25 taluka panchayats that were won by the Congress in 2015.
The BJP, which has won all the six civic corporations in the February 21 polls, has already declared victory on 218 seats where it does not have a challenger.
This time, there are two new entrants in the fray — the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). The AAP is contesting on 1,067 of the 4,777 seats in the taluka panchayats, 304 of 980 seats in the district panchayats and 726 of 2,720 seats in nagarpalikas. The party’s confidence has been buoyed by the results of the municipal corporations. In Surat, the AAP won 27 seats. while the Congress posted a zero. In Rajkot, AAP polled the second-highest number of votes. The BJP has gained a majority in both the municipal corporations, results for which were announced on February 23.
The AIMIM, meanwhile, is contesting from Modasa (12 candidates, 3 wards), Godhra (8 candidates, 2 wards) and has 13 candidates on seats of Bharuch district and taluka panchayats.
In the last local body elections, the Congress had a pre-poll alliance with Chhotu Vasava-led Janata Dal United (JD(U)) in the district panchayats of Bharuch and Narmada, where the JD(U) had won nine and six seats in Bharuch and Narmada districts, respectively. The taluka panchayats of Jhagadia, Netrang, Valiya and Dediapada were also won by the JD(U). After the JD(U) split, Vasava launched his own Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and now has allied with AIMIM.
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