A resurgent Congress has not only swept rural Gujarat but also made dents in the urban bastions of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the local body elections held in the state .
While the results showed a clear Congress dominance -- it won more than three-fourths of the district panchayats and 60% of the taluka panchayats-- the inroads it made in the cities were visible in closer analysis.
The BJP won all the six municipal corporations but not before ceding a lot of seats to the Congress in cities like Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar.
For instance, even as the BJP bagged the 72-member Rajkot corporation, it managed only 38 seats as against 34 of the Congress. In 2010, the BJP had won 49 and the Congress got 10 in the then house of 59.
But the Congress did not make much inroads in Vadodara and in Surat, which is the nerve centre of the violent patidar quota agitation led by 22-year old Hardik Patel.
Even in Ahmedabad, where three people were killed in police firing during demonstrations in August, the BJP held on to its Patidar bastions. The party even won Viramgam which is Hardik’s hometown.
This slightly runs against the grain of BJP claims that its unimpressive show in the civic polls was mostly due to erosion in Patel votes.
In the small towns, the BJP won 40 of the 56 municipalities and the Congress 8. The Congress had 10 municipalities out of a total of 53 last time.
In the villages it was a total role reversal, with Congress winning 21 of the 31 district panchayats compared to the 2 it held last time. The BJP which held 24 seats in 2010 was reduced to a mere 6.
The Congress made deep inroads into the Patidar pockets in Saurashtra, north and south Gujarat -- including at Morbi, Jamnagar, Amreli and Mehsana, which are traditionally BJP strongholds.
Of the 230 taluka panchayats, the Congress grabbed 133 while the BJP’s tally fell from 162 to 72. Out of a total of 4778 seats, the Congress won 2509, while BJP bagged 1981.
The civic polls were a crucial test for the BJP as this was the first mandate in the state after Anandiben Patel replaced Narendra Modi as chief minister,
The BJP’s lacklustre show also comes just a month after the party was routed in the Bihar assembly elections by a coalition comprising Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal(U), Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.