Ahmedabad: Both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress on Thursday claimed victory for the candidates they supported in Gujarat’s gram panchayat elections, even though counting of votes is still under way.

There were 120,000 candidates in the elections, which are not fought under party symbols.

BJP state president Jitu Vaghani said about 80% of the candidates supported by his party won, calling it an endorsement of demonetisation. “Today’s results of gram panchayat elections in which BJP-supported sarpanchs (village heads) have won in massive numbers show that demonetisation has got full support of the people," he said in a statement.

He said more than 1,400 villages chose ‘Samras’, a method in which the sarpanch and panchayat members are unanimously elected. He claimed this showed people have chosen development and good governance over petty politics.

Last month, BJP had swept elections in two municipalities and one taluka panchayat in the state. Besides, it won with a huge majority in by-elections held in 11 municipalities, seven district panchayats and 15 taluka panchayat seats.

Congress leaders, meanwhile, claimed 70% of the candidates it supported won. Ahead of the panchayat polls, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had addressed a huge gathering of farmers on 21 December where he criticized the demonetisation move. His public rally, the first in the state since 2014 general election, was seen as an attempt to mobilize Congress ahead of the 2017 state elections.

The polls to elect members and sarpanchs for 8,624 gram panchayats in Gujarat were held earlier this week, which saw a turnout of 80%.

As per figures shared by the state Election Commission (EC), the tribal district of Narmada clocked the highest turnout of 87.45% while Bhavnagar district remained the lowest with 70.47%. In comparison, the voter turnout in the last elections held five years was about 77%.

As many as 1.20 lakh candidates were in the fray for 53,116 wards across the state, whereas 26,800 candidates contested on 8,527 seats of sarpanch.

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