AHMEDABAD--The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced some big losses to the Congress in rural areas in Gujarat on Wednesday, and sought to blame the patidar reservation protests for its unimpressive show in the the civic polls.
The Congress has won 21 of 31 district panchayats of Gujarat, making an impressive comeback in rural areas of the state.
However, the ruling BJP retained its hold on urban centres as trends of the local bodies polls continued to pour in.
The six municipal corporations BJP has retained are: Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar. However, in rural areas adjoining these cities, the BJP has suffered as it lost district panchayats of Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and Jamnagar, Mehsana and Junagadh.
The Congress, which was virtually obliterated from all tiers of power structure in the state after losing almost every election to BJP in the last 12 years under the leadership of then chief minister Narendra Modi, termed its performance as "verdict against BJP government".
Interestingly, the results show a clear division in rural and urban areas in Gujarat.
It seems he BJP faced strong anti-incumbency factor in rural areas due to price rise and lack of leadership in rural areas. On the other hand, the Congress didn't have a strong leader with connect with urban population.
“The BJP has done work in rural areas. But with the kind of social engineering done by the Congress of late, the results for the BJP are below expectation," said BJP vice-president I K Jadeja referring to the quota stir.
However, the BJP dominated several urban centres, including winning the Nagar Palika or municipality in Viramgam, the home-town of 22-year-old politician Hardik Patel, who is leading a massive agitation for reservation for Patels.
The BJP had held sway over almost all the local bodies earlier in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The civic elections had assumed significance for the ruling party in the backdrop of Patel quota agitation apart from being the first major political battle for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
In 2010, BJP had won 30 district panchayats in 2010. This year, Congress won 21 out of 31--a major significance.
In 230 taluka panchayats having a total of 4778 seats, the Congress is leading in 2204 while BJP is ahead in 1798.
The BJP has managed to retain its lead in all the six municipal corporations --Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Jamangar and Bhavnagar-- which went to polls last month.
Elated over the trend, state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said, "This is a mini-election of sorts for the state, where Congress is winning in majority (rural) areas. This is a verdict against the state government."
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel is to address party workers in the city later in the evening.
Voting for six municipal corporations was held on November 22, while that for 31 district panchayats, 230 taluka panchayats and 56 municipalities on November 29.
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