BJP romps home with 68 out of 72 seats in Rajkot

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Gujarat polls, Gujarat local body polls, gujarat bjp, Rajkot municipal polls, indian express newsIn the 50-year-long history of the RMC, BJP has lost election only once—in 2000. (Representational)

THE BHARATIYA Janata Party (BJP) romped home in Rajkot by almost doubling its number of seats to 68 out of total 72 seats in the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) and retained power in the biggest civic body of Saurashtra on Tuesday, reducing the Congress tally to four seats. The saffron party retained power in Jamnagar and Bhavnagar as well.

Jamnagar was the only civic body where Congress could reach double digits, while the saffron party, which has been ruling the three civic bodies for the past 25 years, with an exception for Rajkot, extended its reach among urban voters.

Polling for election to RMC, Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) and Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) was conducted on February 21 and the three civic bodies had recorded 50.75, 53.64 and 49.37 per cent turnout respectively.

Counting of votes was held on Tuesday, when the ruling BJP won all but Ward No.15 in RMC and breached Congress strongholds of Ward 3 and Ward 16. The party also regained Ward 11 and 12, which are dominated by Patidar voters and which it had lost to Congress in the 2015 election.

Mansukh Kalariya, deputy leader of Opposition and sitting corporator from Ward 10 also conceded the lone seat of the Congress. Gayatriba Vaghela, president of Gujarat Mahila Congress, lost her seat from Ward 3 while Ashok Dangar, former mayor of Rajkot and incumbent president of Rakot city unit of Congress lost from Ward 17.

Two former deputy mayors, Bharat Makwana and Mohan Sojitra, also lost form Ward 4. The only saving grace for Cong-ress was Leader of Opposition in RMC, Vashram Sagathiya leading a Congress clean sweep Ward 15. Besides him, Bhanu Sorani and Makbul Dawoodani were the only three sitting Congress corporators who managed to retain their seats. Komal Bharai, the fourth winner from Ward 15, is a new face.

All the 13 sitting BJP corporators, including former deputy mayors Darshita Shah and Vinu Dhava, won. The party had denied tickets to 27 of its sitting corporators.

In the 50-year-long history of the RMC, BJP has lost election only once—in 2000.

“We were expecting to win 60 to 65 seats as Rajkot has got AIIMS, new international airport, a new GIDC, new bus port, Narmada waters in Aji dam, new race course and many more things during the BJP reign. People of Rajkot have been reposing their faith in the BJP for the past 50 years,” Dhansukh Bhanderi, BJP’s in charge for RMC election, said.

The Congress, hurt by Aam Admi Party (AAP) eating into its vote share, said the results were unbelievable. “Seeing turnout at our election meetings and the response at campaigning, we were confident of winning at least 31 seats… Nonetheless, we respect the people’s mandate,” Dangar said, adding, he had tendered his resignation as city unit president due to party’s defeat.

AAP had contested all 72 seats in RMC and its candidates finished second to BJP in Ward 8 but the party failed to open its account in its maiden attempt in Rajkot.

In Jamnagar, the BJP won 50 seats, 12 more than its tally in 2015 while Congress tally shrunk from 24 to 11 seats even as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) took the remaining three seats in the 64-member general board of the civic body. The BJP gained four seats each in Ward No.3, 15 and 16 but also lost three to BSP and one to Congress in Ward 6. Outgoing deputy mayor Karshan Karmur, who had joined the AAP after BJP denied him ticket, got 5,435 votes, the fifth highest tally after four BJP winners. However, Congress managed to retain its base in Ward 1 and 12 by winning all eights seats. Congress’ Jamnagar city unit president Virendrasinh Jadeja was among those who lost.

In Bhavnagar, BJP retained power by winning 44 out of 52 seats while Congress could save only eight of its 24 seats. BJP won all seats in 10 out of 13 wards. “Thanks to our president CR Paatil’s strategy of page pramukhs, we won despite low voter turnout,” said Rajiv Pandya, president of BJP’s Bhavnagar city unit.

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