The Congress wrested the president’s post on eight seats from the BJP and the ruling party won in five earlier held by the Congress in results of 19 urban bodies announced on Saturday. The BJP retained four seats and the Congress retained only one. An Independent candidate won in Anuppur, which was held earlier by the Congress.
Elections to the 19 local bodies were held on January 17. Of 356 posts of councillors, the BJP won 194 seats and the Congress 145.
Although the BJP and the Congress won nine posts of president each, the outcome was seen as a setback for the ruling party in the state that goes to the polls towards end of this year.
Accepting that the party could have done much better, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chouhan blamed rebels for scuttling the chances of candidates on several seats. The Congress interpreted the result as a reconfirmation of the decline in BJP’s popularity.
“Had we been a little careful and managed to convince some rebels to withdraw from the fray, our victory would have been bigger,’’ said the CM, who had campaigned extensively for the polls.
The party chief said, “Our showing was alright. Rebels upset our calculations. Maybe we made some mistakes in distribution of tickets. We will review it.’’
Despite faring well, the Opposition party did not celebrate at its headquarters at Bhopal due to the death of former Assembly speaker Srinivas Tiwari in Delhi on Friday.
The Congress performed well in Raghogarh, the home turf of former CM Digvijaya Singh. “The results show that the voters are veering towards the Congress,’’ said Singh’s son and Congress MLA Jaivardhan Singh.
Besides the post of president, the Congress won 20 of 24 posts of councillors in Raghogarh. A few days ago, supporters of the Congress and BJP had clashed in Raghogarh, forcing the administration to impose restrictions.
Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh said Congress’s gains indicate voters are ready for change.