Gandhinagar: The ruling BJP had cause to celebrate in Gujarat when it swept the Congress opposition off its feet regaining its foothold, bagging two municipalities, one tehsil panchayat, besides the by elections in 11 municipal seats, seven district panchayat seats and 15 taluka panchayat seats.
The elections though ab-ridged, acquired importance because these were seen as a barometer of public opinion on the controversial demonetisation initiated by the BJP-headed NDA coalition at the Centre on November 8.
The results seemed to be important enough for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “salute the people of Gujarat for their continued trust in the BJP. The great win for the BJP in local polls shows the faith of the people in the BJP”, the Prime Minister said.
In toto, of the 126 seats in the various local self government bodies in the state where polling was held, the BJP had contested 125 and won 109. Prior to the polls, the BJP held 64 of these seats and the Congress 52 seats. The Congress tally now stands reduced to 17.
There are a total of 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats, 31 district panchayats and 56 municipalities in Gujarat. The BJP controlled 30 of the 31 district panchayats, 191of the 230 and 47 of the 56 municipalities in the state at the time Narendra Modi left chief ministership to take over as the prime minister in 2014. However, the ruling BJP suffered a major setback in the November 2015 local self government body elections held in the backdrop of the Patel pro-reservation stir and the Congress which had only one district panchayat had bagged control of 23 with the BJP left with only seven. In the 230 taluka panchayats where the Congress controlled only 37 earlier, it had improved its tally to 132 while in comparison BJP’s rule stood reduced from 193 earlier to merely 73 taluka panchayats.
In the election results announced on Tuesday, the BJP increased its tally by one taluka panchayat bagging Gondal, winning 18 of the 22 taluka panchayat seats and five of the seven district panchayat seats from here. Gondal taluka panchayat was in the hands of the Congress with 12 seats but the BJP swept it this polls.
Additionally, it also annexed two more municipalities, winning 41 of the 44 seats in Vapi (Valsad district) and 27 of the 28 seats in Kanakpur-Kansad(Surat). In the by-election to 15 seats in the various taluka panchayats of the state, BJP bagged five and the Congress four while those to the remaining seats were postponed for technical reasons.
The elections to the municipalities became necessary due to the expiry of their terms while the Gondal taluka panchayat was dissolved due to a tie between the Congress and the BJP.
Reacting to the results, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani attributed the victory to the bold steps initiated by the PM. ”Both Uri strike into Pakistan and demonestisation has received mass approval”, he added.
Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that his party accepted the results with all humility and would continue to raise issues of mass concern”.