In a boost for the BJP ahead of the assembly elections next year, the party swept the local body elections in Gujarat on Tuesday, winning 109 of the 126 seats across the state. The Congress managed to get just 17 seats.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hailed the victory as people’s endorsement of the Centre’s demonetisation decision.
“BJP’s victory in Gujarat can be seen as people’s endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two recent steps — surgical strikes across the LoC and the demonetisation move to wipe out black money from the system,” PTI quoted him as saying. “This is truly a grand success of BJP as elections took place in different parts of the state, representing people from different communities. Thus, we can say that every section of society accepted BJP,” said Rupani.
The State Election Commission had announced elections to 134 seats in district panchayats, taluka panchayats and municipalities. But polling was held for only 126 seats on Sunday — polling for four seats was cancelled following court orders, while there were no candidates for four taluka panchayat seats (all reserved). Of the 126 seats that went to polls, the Vapi and Kanakpur-Kansad municipalities in South Gujarat and mid-term polls in Gondal taluka panchayat in Saurashtra were crucial, and the BJP won all three.
The BJP retained its hold in Vapi municipality of Valsad district, winning 41 of the total 44 seats. It also retained Kanakpur-Kansad municipality of Surat district, winning 27 of the total 28 seats. The BJP also wrested Gondal taluka from the Congress, winning 18 of the total 22 seats. Gondal taluka had become a prestige battle for the BJP and Congress as, within a year of the election last November, mid-term polls had to be held.
The mid-term polls were held after the Gujarat government superseded the panchayat board on June 20, as the Congress failed to pass the budget for the taluka panchayat thrice.
The Congress had won 12 of the 22 seats in the Gondal taluka panchayat elections held last November. But one of its members cross-voted in the subsequent elections for the post of president and vice-president of the panchayat. This resulted in a tie, with both Congress and BJP candidates securing 11 votes each.