AAP springs a surprise, Kejriwal thanks voters
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday walked into the widening Opposition space in Gujarat by making a strong debut in the 120-seat Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), winning 27 seats to relegate the Congress to nil. The ruling BJP won the remaining 93 seats in civic body polls.
The BJP appeared headed to win all six municipal corporations-- Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Surat.
“For starting a new kind of politics, thanks from the bottom of the heart to the people of Gujarat,” tweeted AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal soon after the results became clear.
“People of Gujarat have voted for politics of work as they were fed up by the politics of BJP and Congress. The people of Gujarat wanted an alternative and AAP has emerged as the key alternative to the present parties...” said Kejriwal in a press statement.
The Congress failed to open its account in Surat for the first time since 1995, prompting its city president Sagar Raika to quit. In the 2015 elections, the Congress won 36 seats out of a total of 116 in the SMC. The AAP, which did not win any seats in its first electoral foray in Gujarat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, chose to fight the elections at the grassroots level this time before graduating to the 2022 state polls.
Promising to be an alternative to the BJP and the Congress, the party contested without its national convener Kejriwal. But Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia conducted road shows that drew healthy crowds, especially in Surat. AAP registered victories in areas dominated by the Patidar community, and where the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, of which Congress leader Hardik Patel was once the convener, held sway. The PAAS threw its lot behind the AAP this time.
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