The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday surged ahead of the Congress in elections to a majority of the urban civic bodies, but suffered rude shocks in the home turf of chief minister Vasundhara Raje who is battling corruption charges.
The party lost the Jhalawar municipal council and and Jhalrapatan municipality -- both in Raje's assembly constituency Jhalrapatan -- after a gap of more than 15 years.
The party also lost to Congress the Baran municipal council and Anta municipality in Baran district. Raje’s son Dushyant Singh is the Lok Sabha MP from Jhalawar-Baran constituency.
The party also trailed in the Dholpur municipal council where Singh had claimed private ownership of a palace which the opposition alleged was government property.
The Congress won 21 out of the 45 wards here, the BJP 15, while the BSP and independents brought up the rest.
Results of elections to civic bodies were seen as a political test for Raje and her son who were accused of helping tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi in return for financial benefits.
In Jhalrapatan, the Congress bagged 15 out of 25 wards, while the BJP secured the remaining 10. In Jhalawar, out of a total 35, the Congress swept 20 wards leaving 15 to the ruling party.
Political analysts in Hadauti, the region which includes Jhalawar district, said the damage was because the BJP and the government ignored local issues
“Damaged roads, lack of drinking water and poor health infrastructure. The public here is angry as the area is represented by CM and her son, but is ignored,” said a senior BJP leader from Hadauti on condition of anonymity.
That everything was not well for BJP in Jhalawar became evident after Jhalawar municipal council chairperson Usha Yadav left the party and joined the Congress in the last week of July.
Yadav had alleged it became suffocating to work in the BJP as a few leaders had "hijacked" the party. She also alleged the CM did not listen to grievances of local leaders, a charge denied by party president Ashok Parnami.
However, the BJP leadership is dismissive of the party’s loss in CM's home turf. “If we are looking at the loss in Jhalawar, we should also credit the CM for the massive victory at other places” said Onkar Singh Lakhawat, party’s in-charge for the local body polls.
The polls for 129 local bodies including the Ajmer municipal corporation, 15 municipal councils and 133 municipalities were held on August 17.
In Ajmer municipal corporation, the BJP emerged as the largest party with 31 seats, while Congress got 22, and seven went to others. So far, the results of 104 municipalities were out of which the BJP was ahead in 62, Congress in 25 and independents and others in 17.
“Results show the public is frustrated with the ruling party. Congress has improved it vote share and has given neck-and-neck fight to the BJP at several places” said state Congress chief Sachin Pilot.