Gujarat: Local bodies’ elections
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
2002: Fresh faces brought in
Facing his first civic election after taking over the reins of Gujarat in 2002, then chief minister Modi tactfully pushed for a `no-repeat' policy in allotting tickets for Surat Municipal Corporation polls held in December 2005.
The strategy was a runaway success with BJP's tally in the 114-member SMC shooting up to 102 from just 59 in 2000. On the face it, not repeating the sitting corporators was aimed at overcoming anti-incumbency . But, internally, it was a well-planned scheme to create a new brigade of Modi loyalists by shoving out all those owing allegiance to his rivals in BJP.
In fact, it was a year before the SMC polls that Modi had managed to weather a massive rebellion against him by 62 of the 127 MLAs after BJP fell behind Congress in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls in the state.Those close to his baiters, such as late Kashiram Rana, a Surat strongman and textile minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, as well as his predecessor Keshubhai Patel, were conveniently shown the door through this formula. “It was a very successful experiment to promote new faces. There were some who had served for 4-5 terms in SMC. We felt an anti-incumbency could hurt party's prospects and, therefore, this po licy was adopted,“ said Pravin Naik, then president of Surat city BJP.
Top local leaders who had to cool their heels at home included Ajay Chokshi, the former Surat mayor who had served five terms as councillor till 2005. Shankar Chevli, the deputy mayor had also served four terms; so had Narendra Gandhi, the standing committee chairman.
Except Ahmedabad and Rajkot, BJP adhered to this formula in municipal corporations of Vadodara and Bhavnagar, too, and consolidated the hold over urban areas. In Vadodara Municipal Corportion, not repeating a single sitting candidate resulted in a stunning victory for BJP, which got 76 seats in a House of 84.
2016: BJP wins 109/ 134 seats
In what is seen as a referendum on PM Narendra Modi's demonetisation move, BJP won 109 of the 134 local body seats across Gujarat, the results of which were declared.
The party turned the electoral tables on Congress in two municipalities and one taluka panchayat, and all but wiped out its rival in Vapi and Kanakpur-Kansad municipalities in south Gujarat.
The saffron party also won the Gondal taluka panchayat in Saurashtra besides romping home in 23 out of 40 seats in the bypolls held in 11 other municipalities, seven district panchayats and 15 taluka panchayats on November 27. Congress won a meagre nine out of 40 bypolls while elections were postponed in some seats on tech nical grounds.
BJP president Amit Shah tweeted: “I thank people of Gujarat for reposing their faith in BJP's pro-poor policies and development focused politics.“ The turnaround comes a year after Gujarat's villages deserted the BJP in local body elections in December 2015, when it suffered severe reverses in its traditional strongholds including Saurashtra.
“The Congress claimed there was public anger against the BJP post-demonetisation. But the results prove that the anger is against Congress,“ said CM Vijay Rupani.
Congress triumphs in municipal corporations, municipal councils, nagar panchayats
The ruling Congress swept the elections for municipal corporations in Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar and for 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in Punjab held on Sunday. Voting was mostly peaceful, but was marred by several incidents of violence that led to police lathicharge in many wards of Patiala.
The highest poll percentage of over 62.22% was registered in Patiala, the assembly constituency of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Poll percentage in Jalandhar was 58% and in Amritsar, it was 52%.
The Congress won in 20 out of 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats. No elections were held for three municipal councils or nagar panchayats which elected their councillors unopposed. An official spokesperson said out of total 414 wards the Congress has won in 267, Shiromani Akali Dal in 37, BJP in 15, AAP in 1 and independents in 94 wards. The ruling Congress performed well in Jalandhar as it won 65 of 80 wards in the municipal corporation and SAD-BJP combine was reduced to 13 wards. The Aam Aadmi Party cut a sorry figure with no wins, but Independents won in 2 wards.
In Amritsar, Congress won with 64 wards in the 85-ward municipal corporation. The SAD-BJP combine trailed far behind with 13 wards and others managed to win in eight wards.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday hailed the civic poll results as aclear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the opposition’s “deceitful propaganda”.
In the Patiala municipal corporation, the Congress routed the opposition parties and won 59 of the 60 wards. The state election commission ordered re-poll in Patiala MC’s Booth No. 3 of Ward No. 37 after receiving a complaint from the returning officer and election observer about an electronic voting machine being damaged. The re-poll will take place on December 19.
Voting in Patiala was marred by claims of violence and protests by the opposition parties — Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP and AAP.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party would approach the Punjab and Haryana high court and demand a CBI probe.