The ruling BJP posted early gains in the Gujarat municipal elections, leading in most of the 81 municipalities that voted on Sunday and establishing a wide gap with closest rival Congress in district panchayats and taluka panchayats. The party hopes to continue its good run in local body polls held over the last few weeks in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, ahead of elections due next year.
The BJP was ahead in 54 of 81 municipalities as votes were counted, with the Congress gaining in two and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opening its account with one seat.
Of 31 district panchayats, the BJP is leading in 12 and others are yet to register. The BJP is leading in 51 of 231 taluka panchayats, with the Congress ahead in seven.
Of a total of 8,474 seats involved, elections were held on 8,235 seats while the rest were unopposed.
Last week, the BJP swept polls across the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar, winning 483 of 576 seats. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) registered its presence in Surat by winning 27 seats at the cost of the Congress, which failed to win any in that town.
Arvind Kejriwal, reveling in AAP’s performance, indicted he was prepping his party for the 2022 Gujarat assembly elections.
On his victory trip to Surat, Mr Kejriwal said AAP would seek votes from the people of the state in the next assembly polls based on the performance of the party’s 27 newly-elected corporators.
The Gujarat BJP sought to give the AAP chief a reality check. State BJP chief CR Patil jibed that Mr Kejriwal was holding a roadshow to celebrate the large number of AAP candidates who had lost their election deposits – forfeited when a candidate fails to get one-sixth of the total valid votes.
AAP and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM also contested in the Gujarat local body polls, apart from traditional rivals BJP and Congress. The AIMIM fielded candidates in minority-dominated seats of Modasa and Bharuch municipalities. It also contested in the Godhra municipality.