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Setback for Modi: BJP defeated in maiden poll for Gandhinagar civic body

By TCN Special Correspondent,

Ahmedabad: The defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the maiden polls for the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation (GMC) is interpreted to be a serious setback to Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The polls were held on April 19 and counting was held today. Gandhinagar is the state capital and it was declared to be a municipal corporation through an order of the Gujarat High court in April 2010.

It was the first municipal polls in Gandhinagar since 1960 when the state came into existence.

Supporters of Modi at a BJP rally in Patna on 13/06/2010

Congress party, which had lost elections in the six municipal corporations in October 2010, won GMC by securing 18 seats, with BJP winning the rest. The total number of seats in GMC is 33. No other party or independents were able to win even a single seat.

Congress had made inadequate drinking water supply, lack of proper health facilities and poor transportation between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad as chief poll plank.

Winning of GMC is considered to be very significant in the political circles as more than 90 per cent of 1.35 lakh electorates in the state capital are state government employees and they appear to have rejected the policies and programmes of the BJP government under Modi.

“The historical victory of the Congress in GMC indicates the political winds are changing in the state’’, commented Prof. J S Bandukwala, human rights activist and political commentator.

“Modi was able to project himself as a great development man but the results of GMC polls show that people are not impressed by his claims’’, said Bandukwala.

Activist Rafiq Sheikh said that working class seemed to have suffered during Modi’s stint and hence, they rejected his party in GMC elections.

“Only a few industrialists benefited under Modi rule and results of the polls in Gandhinagar indicate that people, particularly government employees, are not happy with the state government policies’’, said Sheikh.

State Congress president Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil said that the victory of Congress suggested the shape of things to come in December 2012 assembly elections

“It is the beginning of the end of Modi’s misrule’’, commented party spokesperson Manish Doshi.

Modi was in Surat and not in the state capital when the results were announced. He has been facing opposition on various issues from his party colleagues for quite some time.

BJP MLA from Mahuva assembly Dr. Kanubhai Kalsaria is leading the agitation against Modi government’s allotment of land for proposed Nirma cement plant. Dr. Kalsaria and his supporters, backed by Gandhians, marched for more than 800 kms and demonstrated in Gandhinagar in February this year against arbitrary allotment of land to industries. Farmers in Mithipur, some distance away from Mahuva, are also opposing a proposed nuclear power plant.

Some of the cabinet ministers are also reported to be angry with Modi’s style of functioning.