It is an acid test for CM Anandiben in view of the Patel community’s disenchantment with the ruling party.
Gandhinagar : Seen as the biggest test of the Anandiben Patel government in the run up to the State Assembly elections which are due in Gujarat in 2017, more than half of the total voting population of the state exercised their franchise to elect 56 municipalities,31 district panchayats and 230 taluka panchayats here on Sunday. A week ago polling had concluded to six of the eight municipal corporations in the state. The collective results will be declared on December 2.
Except for stray incidents of group clashes between supporters of the BJP and the Congress, polling passed off peacefully. The average turnout of voters for the polling in two municipalities and the panchayats on Sunday was between 55 to 57 per cent which is higher than the turnout in the polling to the six municipal corporations held last Sunday. While the municipal corporation elections had resulted in large scale protests following complaints of deletion of thousands of names from the registered voters’ list, Sunday’s voting was in comparison glitch-free despite the fact that over 2.9 crore voters exercised their franchise.
These local self government body polls have come to acquire considerable political significance in the backdrop of the Patel community’s disenchantment with the ruling BJP, incidentally headed by a Patel chief minister, Anandiben Patel. The Patidar community has been on the warpath seeking reservation in the OBC category. Six of its key leaders have been booked on sedition charges and are languishing behind bars. Since the community is seen as the bedrock of support for the BJP, its alienation is being watched with keen political interest to gauge its impact on the electoral fortunes of the two main combatants – the Congress and the BJP. Interestingly, the highest polling of 75 per cent was reported for the Unjha municipality in which the BJP has been unable to even put up a candidate and is seeking to save face by sponsoring independents. Considered the cumminseed and isabgol market of the country, the BJP had been in control of this municipality for two decades. The BJP controls 30 of the 31 district panchayats, 191 of the 230 taluka panchayats and 47 of the 56 municipalities where elections were held on Sunday.