The Congress has bagged 18 of the 33 seats of the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation (GMC). The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) defeat comes on the heels of its drubbing in last year’s Gandhinagar panchayat polls.
The dent in senior BJP leader LK Advani’s parliamentary constituency has come despite chief minister Narendra Modi deputing his entire cabinet to manage the keenly contested civic polls, where around 80% of the 1.3 lakh electorate comprises state government employees and their families. And though Modi had refrained from campaigning, Advani had especially flown down to address the BJP workers of the city.
“The BJP has lost despite splurging huge money to woo voters and misusing the government machinery,” said leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil.
Analysts say the two losses indicate a rejection of the party by both rural and urban voters.
“The victory of the Congress in GMC marks the beginning of the end of the BJP rule in the state,” said the recently appointed state Congress president Arjun Modhvadia.
Modhvadia attributed the victory to teamwork by Congress leaders and workers. But according to local sources, locally influential Pravin Patel switching sides and smart candidate selection by the Congress did the trick.
The BJP, however, downplayed its loss by labelling Gandhinagar city and district as traditionally Congress strongholds. “But we will analyse the results,” said state BJP spokesman IK Jadeja.
Gandhinagar was a notified area administered by the state government before the corporation was formed in March 2010, following a direction by the Gujarat high court. The court order had come after the citizens had complained that they had no local representation.
Last year, the ruling party had swept the local elections across the state and also won 20 of the 22 district panchayat polls. Of the eight municipal corporations in the state, the Congress is now ruling two and the BJP, six.