A screen grab of chief electoral officer, Gujarat
A screen grab of chief electoral officer, Gujarat

Gujarat civic polls: Congress makes comeback in rural areas; BJP retains urban centres

Congress is leading in district and taluka panchayats even as the BJP is ahead in corporations, municipalities

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat local body elections, seen as a litmus test for chief minister Anandiben Patel and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saw the party retaining power in the six urban centres of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar.

However, it faltered in the district panchayat elections where the Congress made a major comeback, winning 22 of the 31 district panchayats.

Voting was held for 31 district panchayats, 230 taluka or block panchayats and 56 municipalities on 22 November. The election involved 19,724 candidates for 7,778 seats and an electorate of 26 million voters.

These elections are seen as a precursor to the assembly election scheduled to be held in December 2017.

In the 230 taluka panchayats having 4778 seats, the Congress won 2509, while BJP bagged 1981.

The Congress had been wiped out in the last local elections in 2010, winning only one district panchayat.

State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said, “People have rejected the BJP government. There is no real development in the state and all that one can see is mere propaganda by the BJP. This is a mini-election of sorts for the state."

Chief minister Patel, while hailing the party’s performance in the urban areas, said that her party would review the results in rural areas.

The BJP had held sway in all elections to local bodies in the last 13 years under the leadership of former chief minister Narendra Modi. Under him, the party won 115 of the 182 assembly seats in the last state elections in 2012 and swept all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the national election last year.

This was the first major elections for Anandiben Patel as chief minister of the state and it was seen as a test for her, especially in the backdrop of the recent Patel agitation for quotas in government jobs and uniersity seats.

She was handpicked by Prime Minister Modi last year to replace him as chief minister.

The BJP’s hold on urban centres continues. The party bagged over 40 of the 56 municipalities in the state, including the Viramgam municipality, the home town of 22-year-old Hardik Patel, who led the agitation for reservation for Patels earlier this year.

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