Ahmedabad: Results of elections to the self-government bodies have come in. Counting of votes for 576 seats was taken up for which polling took place on February 21 in elections of the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar. As the trend of results came in by noon it became clear that as expected the BJP has won in all the six municipal corporations.
In Ahmedabad municipal corporation, election was held for 192 seats of 48 wards. The contest was among the main political party, the BJP, the opposition, Congress, AAP and AIMIM. Owaisi’s AIMIM had fielded candidates only in predominantly Muslim areas. In 2015, BJP had come to power winning 147 seats. BJP will rule the civic body of Ahmedabad again.
Did last minute voting help the BJP?
People’s lack of enthusiasm was evident during the election campaign and even on the day of the polling they had not shown interest in coming to the polling booth which indicated that there might have been an anti-incumbency factor behind this. This was a matter of worry for the BJP. However, there was a sudden spurt in voting in the last few hours leading to 46 per cent voter turnout. This indicated that those who cast their votes in the last few hours favoured the BJP. This is going to add to the clout of state BJP president C R Patil in the party organisation, particularly after he was given the credit for the victory of all the eight BJP candidates in the recently held assembly by-election. Now on, his decisions will go unchallenged in the party, so powerful he has emerged after the civic body election results. It seems that his ‘Page committee’ strategy did work.
Congress boat sinks?
If we take a close look at the Congress from the day the date of civic body elections was announced till the results were out, the immaturity of the party leadership and its failure to gauge people’s mood was proved again. Because of the discontent over the allocation of party tickets, the party could not even release its complete list of candidates. Congress candidates were handed over the mandate secretly. Noticing the fissures and disarray in the party, perhaps the people thought if Congress cannot put its house in order how can it take care of our interests.
Congress appeared to be totally absent from the arena during this election. Results show that Gujarat is becoming Congress-free. Congress has suffered drubbing not only in Ahmedabad but in all the other municipal bodies. In Surat, by around 4 in the afternoon, Congress was leading in just four seats. In Jamnagar, it was leading in nine seats, seven seats in Vadodara, eight in Bhavnagar and only four in Rajkot. Congress could not even reach a double-digit number in the civic body polls. All the efforts put in by state Congress leaders have gone wasted.
Congress could not even cash on the anger of Patidars against the BJP in Saurashtra. On the other hand, in Surat, Patidar’s anger against BJP and the denial of tickets by Congress worked to the advantage of AAP. In Surat, AAP’s 21 candidates won while its entire panel won in two wards. Thus, Congress has lost its position also as the main opposition party. City Congress presidents of Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Surat and Ahmedabad have already resigned.
AAP received welcome in Gujarat
For the first time, the Aam Aadmi Party got an entry in Gujarat. This time Aam Aadmi Party had fielded candidates in all the six municipal corporations, 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats. Though small, but AAP’s victory in the municipal corporation election can be described as historic. AAP has now got a foothold in Gujarat at the grassroot level in at least urban centres, a development that will go a long way for the party. This will infuse confidence and optimism not only in party workers but also in its central leaders. Aam Aadmi Party has been working among people in Surat for the last two years. This paid results. Kejriwal’s face and the Delhi model of development have found connect with the people of Surat because of which the party could open its account.
BSP surprised everyone
BSP surprised everyone by registering the victory of its three candidates in Jamnagar. This despite the fact that none of its known leaders, including Mayawati, campaigned. It is evident that people voted for the popularity of the individual candidates and not because of their party affiliation. Even the party leaders might have been surprised by this unexpected victory. However, the victory in Jamnagar would inspire the party leadership to put in more efforts in strengthening the organisation. After his win, candidate Furkan Sheikh said the party did not follow any strategy and that people voted for him because of his work. Every party must learn a lesson from this win. One of the three victorious candidate Jyotiben had joined the BSP after she was denied ticket by BJP. Her victory also carries a message. The third winner of BSP is Rahul Boriya, a 22-year-old software engineer.
Focus now shifts on elections of municipalities, district and taluka panchayats
Polling for the elections to 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats is on February 28 and the results will be declared on March 2. The election results of six municipal corporations will have direct impact. After the development of cities, BJP is marching towards rural development by taking the various development schemes of the centre to villages, provide water from the Narmada project, develop agriculture and ensure adequate supply of electricity. These are the factors that make people of villages happy with the BJP. The issues of Ram temple in Ayodhya, the scrapping of article 370 from Kashmir, Hindutva and nationalism have also spread to villages and made Narendra Modi popular. BJP hopes to benefit from all of this. Against this, Congress has failed to provide a strong leadership and as an effective opposition. There is no face at the national level who can inspire confidence.
Emergence of AIMIM as a new challenge
AIMIM, which entered the civic body elections in Ahmedabad and Bharuch, was leading in Behrampura when the counting of votes started giving rise to the hope that it will find a foothold in Gujarat from a city like Ahmedabad. The party had to wait till 5 in the evening for some good news. Four of its candidates from Maktampura were leading while it has tasted victory in four wards of Jamalpur. It is a big thing for Owaisi’s party to gain entry into Ahmedabad municipal corporation. This will bolster its claim of victory in Bharuch municipality.
Will there be change in the 2022 assembly polls?
Elections to the Gujarat assembly are due in 2022. The civic body and panchayat polls are like the semi-final match before the assembly elections. The results of the semi-finals indicate that BJP’s Hindutva politics and journey of development has gathered momentum. BJP has come to power in six municipal corporations for the fourth term.
However, the small success of the Aam Aadmi Party also gives out a loud message. Congress has utterly failed and needs to do introspection to get out of nepotism. Aam Aadmi Party has started preparatory work for the assembly elections. AAP has used social media most effectively to spread its message. It has created a class of supporters and it appears certain that it will emerge as a main opposition party in the 2022 assembly elections.