BJP Sweeps Gujarat Civic Polls as AIMIM, AAP, BSP Gain Foothold to Stun Congress

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A supporter of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds a flag as he celebrates outside the party headquarters in New Delhi on December 18, 2017, with early counting of votes indicating a comfortable win for them in the key states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. / AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN

In Ahmedabad, the largest city in Prime Minister Natrendra Modi’s BJP-ruled state which recorded a poor 42.5 per cent voter turnout, the saffron party won 165 of the 192 seats and the Congress bagged 16

Mahesh Trivedi | Clarion India

AHMEDABAD – The anti-incumbency factor went for a toss in elections to the six municipal corporations in major cities of Gujarat with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been ruling these civic bodies for the past 20 years, retaining power in the cash-rich urban civic bodies for five more years by bagging a record 489 (by 7.30 pm 568 seats were counted) of the 576 councillors’ seats up for grabs.

While a divided Congress presented a miserable show by winning only 46 seats, Arvind Kejeriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party which contested the local polls for the first time in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, walked away with 27 seats.

By capturing seven seats, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has finally gained foothold in Modi’s land and stunned the Congress by uprooting the party from its age-old stronghold of Jamalpur in Ahmedabad, winning all four seats in the Muslim-dominated ward besides winning three more seats in another ward, Maktampaura.

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaaj Party also opened its account by capturing three seats in Jamnagar which saw the highest turnout of 53.4 per cent.

In Ahmedabad, the largest city in Prime Minister Natrendra Modi’s BJP-ruled state which recorded a poor 42.5 per cent voter turnout, the saffron party won 165 of the 192 seats and the Congress bagged 16.

In Vadodara, BJP emerged victorious in 69 of the 76 seats while the Congress won 7 seats. In the Diamond City of Surat in south Gujarat which had witnessed a 7 per cent higher voter turnout, the Congress drew a blank, while BJP took 93 seats out of 120 seats but AAP breached the saffron citadel and decimated the Grand Old Party by bagging as many as 27 seats on the strength of the ‘Delhi Model’, establishing itself as a possible third force in the bipolar state ruled by either BJP or the Congress.

In Rajkot, the home town of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP bagged 68 out of 72 seats with the Congress managing to win only 4 seats.

In Jamnagar, BJP stuck to power by grabbing 50 out of 64 seats, with the Congress managing to win just 11 seats and BSP taking the remaining three seats. Back in 2015, BJP had won 38 seats and the Congress 24 seats.

In Bhavnagar, 44 seats went to BJP while the Congress had to remain content with 8 seats.

The battle of ballots to pick 576 councillors was held on Sunday and the results were declared on Tuesday after some 53 million votes were counted in the presence of gun-totting policemen.

That the saffron party will sure register a spectacular performance in the five-yearly local civic polls became clear early enough around noon by which time BJP was leading in as many as 58 seats while the Congress was ahead only in eight seats. The game was up for the Congress when by 5 pm, Narendra Modi’s party had grabbed as many as 294 seats but Sonia Gandhi’s party had in its kitty just 37.

The two-phase elections to the state’s 323 local self-government institutions, including the just-concluded polls in the six urban civic bodies as well as 55 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats going to polls on February 28, are being seen as the litmus test for the saffron party ahead of the assembly polls next year.

The Congress’s miserable performance could also mean the end of innings for the central in-charge for Gujarat Rajiv Saatav, state party chief Amit Chavda and leader of the Opposition in the legislative assembly Paresh Dhanani who were all accused—by party faithful themselves–of not maintaining transparency in distribution of party tickets.

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