At a time when it is facing adverse publicity over a series of issues, the ruling BJP on Tuesday projected its performance in the local body elections in Maharashtra to claim that its popularity is intact.
The party fielded Union Minister Prakash Javadekar to highlight the performance of the BJP in the sarpanch election in Maharashtra, results of which were declared on Monday. “BJP has won 1,457-gram panchayats whereas the Congress could only win 301. This was an election in rural Maharashtra. Our performance shows that farmers, daily wage workers, labourers and villagers still stand by the BJP. It was a pure village election,” Javadekar told reporters at the BJP headquarters.
Javadekar said the party’s electoral performance in BJP-ruled Maharashtra has been consistently good. According to the minister, who belongs to Maharashtra, BJP ally Shiv Sena, with whom the party has been having a blow-hot-and-cold relation, could win 222-gram panchayats, while NCP won 194 and others 171. He said the BJP had won 13 of the 21 corporations and 406 zilla parishads in the civic body elections held in the state since 2015.
Javadekar said the BJP had won a majority of by-elections to local bodies in Gujarat as well. “At the ground level, people elect the BJP because they approve of the government under the leadership of Narendra Modi. It is a reverse scenario for the Congress. Even in their meeting, people chant Modi’s name,” the Union minister said.
Taking a swipe at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who has been campaigning in Gujarat, Javadekar said, “Rahul Gandhi does politics through tweets. It is bankruptcy if you have only tweets and not the ground reality to support your politics.” While the government has been facing criticism over the economy, the ruling BJP has been under attack following a report by The Wire, alleging that the turnover of a company owned by party president Amit Shah’s son rose exponentially following the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and Shah’s elevation as BJP chief. The BJP has denied the charges.
BJP leaders admitted that the allegations, which they said do not amount to corruption, could damage the perception about the party. However, a senior party leader said: “The credibility of the BJP and Prime Minister could insulate the BJP’s image. So these allegations are not likely to damage the party badly.”
The leader said the BJP’s prospects in the upcoming state elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka are still bright because of the credibility enjoyed by the party and the PM, the support of the OBCs and the network of the BJP at booth level.