Updated: February 22, 2021 2:37:43 am
Vadodara recorded a total voter turnout of 42.82 per cent at the close of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) elections until 5 pm on Sunday.
As leaders of political parties gauged the indications of a low voter turnout in most wards, party workers fanned out in their respective wards and urged residents to vote.
Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi embarked on foot in areas of his Assembly constituency, Raopura, on Sunday afternoon, while Vadodara BJP MP Ranjan Bhatt was turned out from a polling station in Sama area, which she entered without an authorised entry pass. BJP state executive leaders blamed the “withdrawal mode” of the Congress party for the low voting percentage.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders said that Vadodara’s low turnout should serve as a “wake up call to the BJP,” especially in the backdrop of heavy party infighting following the announcement of the candidates by the party on February 5.
The wards that recorded a relatively higher voter turnout are the ones where seasoned heavyweights from the Congress party are contesting.
Ward 1, which saw an entire Congress panel in 2015, recorded the highest voter turnout with 50.3 per cent. Sitting Congress corportors Ami Ravat, Pushpa Waghela and Jaha Desai are contesting from here, while the fourth candidate in the panel is first-time candidate Harish Patel, the party’s general secretary in Vadodara and a close aide of Gujarat Congress Working President Hardik Patel.
Similarly, Ward 4, where Congress leader Anil Parmar is contesting, has recorded 43.86 per cent turnout, while Ward 16— another Congress panel ward, where Opposition leader Chandrakant Shrivastav is one of the four candidates — recorded a turnout of 41.44 per cent.
Although Ward 18 and 19 saw a mixed representation from both parties in 2015, they have Congress heavyweights — Chirag Zaveri in Ward 18 and Lalji Thakor in Ward 19. Both wards recorded a turnout of 47.28 per cent and 42.90 per cent, respectively. Ward 13, where sitting corporator Balu Surve is a Congress candidate, recorded 43.88 per cent turnout.
A BJP leader from Vadodara’s city admitted that the factional infighting in Ward 17 and 18 after the declaration of the candidate list has cropped up as a cause of concern for the party. Another BJP leader said, “The low turnout is definitely an anti-incumbency… It is difficult to say if this would work to the advantage of the Congress party. It exposes the fact that the BJP’s ‘Page Pramukh’ programme is not working… We will need to introspect.”
Congress spokesperson Shailesh Amin said, “The low turnout is a sign that the BJP is in trouble in many wards… Their party workers have turned against them and the results will show that the Congress has gained a few seats as a result.”
In 2015, BJP had won 68 of 76 seats, while the Congress got 14 seats. Four other seats went to the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) panel in Ward 9 led by Rajesh Ayare, who had then broken away from the BJP, but he is back in the party fold this election.
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