The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintained its sway over the voters in the Gujarat civic polls as it won all six municipal corporations, winning at least 483 of the total 576 seats till Tuesday evening. Counting is still underway in Rajkot and Ahmedabad.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintained its sway over voters in the Gujarat civic polls as it won all six municipal corporations in the state. The BJP has dominated the civic bodies in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar for several years now.
The BJP retained its supremacy across the six civic bodies in the polling for 576 seats in 144 wards held on Sunday. But the finer print of the Gujarat civic poll results point to some significant undercurrent in Gujarat’s politics. Apart from the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, AIMIM and BSP also bagged seats in the municipal corporation elections.
Rupani Clears Incumbency Test
While the counting of votes was still underway at several places, the BJP had won at least 483 seats in the civic polls till the latest round of counting. The Congress was a distant second with 55 seats. The AAP, which is upbeat after the Gujarat civic poll results were announced, was third with 27 seats, followed by Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM with seven seats, Bahujan Samaj Party of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati with three seats, and one seat went to an Independent candidate.
This result establishes that there is still a pro-incumbency sentiment in urban Gujarat. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani passed the test that many considered would set the tone for next year’s Gujarat Assembly election.
The Congress had given the BJP a tough run in the 2017 Gujarat election. But the Gujarat civic polls could not offer the Congress much hope, and the party may require recalibration of its election strategy in the BJP-dominated state.
Setback For Congress
A lot depended on the municipal corporation polls for the Congress, which boasts of a solid base in rural Gujarat. But that support base in rural Gujarat has not been enough for Congress to come back to power in the state for the past two decades.
While the BJP looked on the course of bettering its 2015 civic poll results, Congress appeared to have grown weaker. In December 2015 Gujarat civic polls, the BJP had won 391 seats. The Congress had won 174. Not only this but the Congress now also has got a challenger in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has replaced the Congress in Surat municipal corporation.
AAP Emerges In Surat
Surat has a voters’ landscape similar to Delhi, the bastion of the AAP, whose party chief Arvind Kejriwal is the chief minister of the national capital. Surat has a huge number of migrant laborers just like Delhi from places such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The AAP has a massive support base among the poor migrant laborer-class in Delhi. The party seems to have benefitted from its pro-poor image in the Surat municipal election. The AAP won 27 seats in Surat, making the party the principal Opposition in the civic body.
AAP leader and Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia held two roadshows in Surat and did a ‘garba’ dance on the city road. After the impressive debut show, replacing the Congress in Surat civic body, AAP chief Kejriwal is likely to hold a roadshow in the city on February 26.
Farmers’ Protest Has No Impact
Farmers’ protest has turned the BJP into a punching bag for the Opposition. The victory of the Congress in Punjab civic polls was attributed to the anti-BJP sentiments in the state over the ongoing protest by a number of farmers’ unions at the Delhi borders.
But the farmers’ protest seems to have had no impact in the Gujarat civic polls. The BJP continued to maintain its influence over the voters despite a multi-term incumbency in these bodies. This may strengthen the BJP’s argument that the ongoing farmers’ protest is a regional issue of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.