The Congress lost two of the three ward seats it held in the three municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Junagadh and Vadodara, and could win only two of the 16 seats of the seven municipalities, that went to by-elections along with the six assembly seats, results for which were declared on Thursday.
BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said in a statement that the people of Gujarat “are with the BJP and will remain with it”.
The Congress retained Behrampura ward in Ahmedabad with party candidate Kamruddin Pathan winning by a margin of 9,677 votes, while it lost one seat each — ward 13 in Vadodara and ward 3 in Junagadh municipal corporations.
Each ward has four corporators. One seat from ward number 35, Behrampura, fell vacant after the death of Congress corporator Yusuf Ajmeri earlier this year.
The ticket to Pathan had led to discord among party members leading to senior Behrampura corporator Badruddin Sheikh resigning as GPCC spokesperson on October 5 after the candidates endorsed by him were not nominated by the party for candidature.
While Sheikh endorsed two party workers – Jafar Ajmeri and Rafik Sheikh – who have been actively working with the party for more than a decade, the winning candidate Kamruddin Pathan, was fielded upon endorsement by Congress leaders Shailesh Parmar, who is also the Daniilimda MLA, and Jamalpur MLA Imran Khedawala.
In Junagadh, the bypoll was necessitated as one of the four seats in Ward No.3 had remained vacant as no candidate was left in the fray during general election to the civic body in July this year. While Congress candidates for this ward had withdrawn their candidature, nomination papers of the BJP candidate were rejected as he had more then two children.
A Congress turncoat won the elections on a BJP ticket, thus losing the seat for the Congress. Aslam Kureshi, who withdrew his nomination papers as a Congress candidate to give a walkover to his elder brother Abbas during the general election to Junagadh Municipal Corporation (JMC) in July this year, won the bypoll to the lone vacant seat in Ward No.3 of the JMC as a BJP nominee. With this, the tally of the ruling BJP in the 60-member general board of the Junagadh Municipal Corporation has gone up to 55.
Aslam secured a whopping 5,116 votes out of the total 5,992 votes cast in the bypoll. His Congress rival Satish Vansh could manage only 771 votes and lost even his election deposit in the process. Aslam is second among three sons of Ibrahim Kureshi alias Ibrahim Gambler, a long-time Congress corporator from Ward No.3. He and his elder son Abbas were sitting Congress corporators till July this year. However, in the run up to the general election in July, Abbas defected to the BJP that gave him a ticket. The BJP also gave a ticket to Sharifa Kureshi, wife of Ibrahim’s younger brother, Wahab.
Congress fielded Aslam, his younger brother Akram and two women candidates – Hasina Pathan and Monaj Bloch. However, later on all the four Congress nominees withdrew their papers, handing over victories to BJP candiates Abbas, Sharifa and Nisha Karia. The fourth seat in the ward remained vacant as nomination papers of Harun Sama, the fourth BJP candidate from the ward were rejected after it was established that he had more than two children, thus necessitating the bypoll.
Abbas was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a police sub-inspector at Sukhnath Chowk area earlier this month. Videos of the incident went viral on social media. A week later, he was granted bail by a local court. Police detained the BJP corporator as soon as he walked out of jail and later shifted him to Vadodara Central Jail after the district magistrate issued a warrant against him under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA).
On the Congress victory in Ahmedabad, MLA Khedawala said, “While Kamruddin was not involved in politics as he was an officer in the legal department of AMC, his family has been associated with the Congress for more than 30 years. His brother Shirazkhan Pathan has been a multi-term councillor. Kamruddin is also a local resident, therefore, keeping him more in touch with the ground realities. The other candidates who had been endorsed by other party members were not from Behrampura but were Danilimda residents. Given Kamruddin retired from AMC few months ago, we deemed it fit to give him the ticket as he also has knowledge of the working of the executive side.”
Commenting on Kamruddin’s victory, Badruddin, who has also served as the leader of Opposition in the AMC, said, “We have been working in these wards for years and we have seen that the electorate relates the work done with the party and not any individual per se.”
Behrampura, the only AMC ward where bypolls were held, has the highest SC population among all wards (29,671) as per Census 2011. Ward 13 of Vadodara fell vacant after the death of the sitting Congress Corporator Jitendra Thakor in May this year. BJP’s Gopal Gohil won the contest against Thakor’s son, Devang, by 16,400 votes.
In 2015, the area came under the new Ward 13 and got four corporators as per the notification of the state government wherein two corporators belonged to the Congress and two to the BJP. Officials say that the necessity to have four corporators in each ward arose in 2015 as the civic body had to implement the decision to have 50% reservation for women candidates. In the elections held in 2015, Congress won two seats with Balu Surve and Jitendra Thakor while BJP won two seats with Geeta Patel and Manorama Kharde. Thakor, a first-time corporator, passed away on May 16 this year, following an ailment.
Among municipalities, bypolls to 16 seats in seven municipalities were also conducted the same day. This included Kapadvanj, Chhota Udepur, Chaaya, Maliya Miyana, Rajula, Salaya and Khambaliya. Where BJP won 13, Congress 2 and one went to an independent. Congress won one seat each in Chhota Udepur and Rajula, while the independent won from Kapadvanj, and has found support of the BJP. The BJP fielded candidates on 15 seats.