BJP sweeps Gujarat civic polls

Written by Political Bureau | Ahmedabad | Updated: Oct 13 2010, 06:00am hrs
The BJP swept the polls to all six municipal corporations in Gujarat, making light of some unusual inner-party dissidence that had surfaced during ticket distribution. The results announced on Tuesday only reaffirmed the settled power equations in the state, with the Congress clinging to the political fringes as in the past and the independents remaining inconsequential, as always.

The BJPs continuing domination of the hustings saw it corner over two-thirds of the 555 seats on offer in the corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar. This was for the first time that the civic polls were being held after the wards delimitation, evolving new constituencies and ward limits.

Modi addressed party workers in Ahmedabad, thanking the people of Gujarat for reaffirming their faith on his partyand claiming again the Muslims too voted for his party. Though the BJP made a departure from the past by fielding 12 Muslim candidates, only one won.

Reveling in the expected romp, BJP leaders maintained the urban voters had stood by the party because of its development track record, reeling off a series of civic projects and initiatives. Congress leaders admitted the party failed to capitalise on the success of centrally funded JNNURM schemes, which gave a great fillip to urban infrastructure in the state.

The Gujarat BJP was rocked by a rare eruption of dissidence and chaos during ticket distribution in these polls, which even had Modi tweaking the poll strategy mid-course. He addressed as many specifically selected party workers as public meetings to keep the partyfolk together while national BJP leaders trooped in to take the microphone in a civic poll.

While a disjointed Congress could barely hang on to its 2005 tally in other cities, it was in Ahmedabad that it suffered the worst rout, unable to make any headway even in the newly included city corporation areas offering some 60-odd seats. While Congress leaders had little to say on their continued failure to improve the tally, the tearaway BJP faction of disgruntled leaders bunched as the Mahagujarat Janata Party, also failed to impress voters. Led by former home minister Gordhan Zadafia, the MJP tried its luck in Surat and Bhavnagar, but was out for a duck with no wins despite continuing to project a saffron legacy.

The state will now go to the second phase of its local polls on October 16, for the district panchayats, taluka panchayats and municipalities.