With the Congress engaged in a row with the activists behind the movement for a strong Lokpal bill, the BJP is counting on the people’s angst over corruption to aid its revival. But the resurfacing of the party’s deep internal problems have upset top leaders’ calculations.
The setback for the BJP in the maiden election of Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation and the cross voting by its MLAs in Jammu and Kashmir have come as dampeners.
What upset party leaders was that the Congress’ victory in Gandhinagar was due to Pravin Patel, a former Gandhinagar BJP President, contesting on Congress ticket after the BJP denied him nomination. Not only Patel, but two of his supporters too won as Congress candidates.
BJP sources conceded that the result was a shot in the arm for newly-appointed Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, who is MLA from Porbanda. This was the first election under his leadership.
Though the BJP rules six municipal corporations in Gujarat, the Congress’ victory in Gandhinagar was second win in a municipal corporation poll after Junagadh in Saurashtra.
The Congress won 18 of the 33 seats that went to polls on April 19 for the newly-constituted body following an HC order. The BJP got 15 seats. Earlier, Gandhinagar was a notified area administered by the state government. Represented by LK Advani in the Lok Sabha, the constituency has had pockets of Congress influence.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the revolt was led by former union minister Chaman Lal Gupta, a veteran BJP leader from the region, who allegedly entered into a pact with the National Conference. Gupta was upset that the ticket was not given to his supporter. Seven of the 11 BJP MLAs cross voted.
BJP’s managers failed to gauge the brewing trouble since the 2009 elections when Gupta’s son, Anil, was denied the party ticket from Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency. Ironically, a team of central BJP leaders led by Rajnath Singh had visited Jammu and held discussion with all the MLAs before they cross voted.