Congress decimated completely in Gujarat civic polls

By TCN Special Correspondent,

Ahmedabad: The Congress was completely decimated in Gujarat, with party badly losing the district panchayat and municipal elections the results of which were declared on Saturday. On October 12, the Party had lost municipal corporation elections in Ahmedbad, Vadodara, Surat, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Rajkot.

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The humiliating defeat forced state party president Siddharth Patel and leader of opposition in the state assembly Shaktisingh Gohil to resign from the party posts. They said they took moral responsibility for the party’s defeat.

Out of 24 district panchayats, BJP won 21 and Congress only two-Gandhinagar and Tapi. In Bharuch district, both BJP and Congress secured equal number of seats and the question of who will control political power would be decided by draw of lots.

Congress also fared worst in municipality elections. Out of 53 municipalities, BJP won 49 and Congress only four. Out of 208 taluka panchayats, BJP managed to win 176, with only 30 going to the Congress and remaining two to the Janata Dal(U).

In fact, Congress was trounced even in its strongholds in tribal belt and central Gujarat district of Anand, hometown of union ministers Bharatsinh Solanki and Dinsha Patel. Congress was also defeated badly in Bharuch, the home district of Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel who spent a few days in the district and campaigned for the party candidates.

In fact, there was no perceptible wave in favour of BJP and it was expected that Congress would perform better in rural areas where there is not so much of ideological polarisation as in towns and cities. But the results have proved that the Congress has lost its support base even in rural areas of the state.

Congress had not fared so miserably even in 2002 assembly polls when Chief Minister Narendra Modi contested the polls riding on a wave of Hindutva in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage. Congress had won 54 assembly seats and at many places it had lost by small margins only.

Even in 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had managed to win 12 Lok Sabha seats from the state with three of the seats it lost by a small margin of 3,000 votes, despite a Hindutva wave in the state with Modi raising highly provocative communal slogans in his campaign.

In 2007 assembly polls held in the background of Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and both parties trying to capitalise on it, Congress managed to increase its tally from 54 to 60 seats, with its Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ally also winning three seats, indicating that though Congress was out of power but its position was improving. The Congress had lost 30 other seats by a margin of 3,000 votes only, indicating the gap between the votes polled by Congress and BJP was not very big.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls when Narendra Modi was projected as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and was given free hand to select party’s candidates in Gujarat and other western states, Congress yet again managed to win 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state, losing only to the BJP.

In 2005 zilla panchayat elections, BJP though fared better, Congress was still able to maintain a respectable position by retaining its hold in Dangs, Valsad, Surat, Bharuch, Anand, Gandhinagar and Rajkot districts. But these results were not considered a surprise given the fact that the sympathy for Modi had yet not evaporated.

But the results of 2010 zilla panchayat and municipal polls came as a complete surprise for the party.

“The situation was much better this time in rural areas yet BJP performed better”, reacted senior party leader Arjun Modhwadia.