BJP wins VMC for fifth time in a row; Cong wins 7 seats

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Gujarat polls, Gujarat local body polls, Gujarat BJP local body polls win, gujarat bjp, Gujarat congress, indian express newsGujarat BJP state president CR Paatil in Vadodara after the party’s victory in six civic bodies on Tuesday (Photo: Bhupendra Rana)

The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP retained a consecutive fifth term in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on Tuesday, winning 69 of the 76 seats that went to the polls on February 21. The BJP swept 16 of the 19 election wards winning all four seats in the panel, while Congress retained its panel in Ward 1. The Congress, however, was reduced to seven– half its strength of 14 in 2015.

Among the 69 winners of the BJP were two 22-year-olds — both first-time contestants and youngest in the city — Bhoomika Rana and Shrirang Ayare, while Congress heavyweight and six-term corporator Chirag Zaveri suffered a setback in Ward 18 by a narrow margin of 700 votes.

Zaveri, who was at the counting centre in Vadodara walked out after the BJP candidate got an edge in the last round of the close contest. Two other sitting Congress corporators Atul Patel and Anil Parmar lost from Ward 2 and Ward 4, respectively, causing a dent in the Congress tally. While Patel had won in 2015 as part of the panel of Ward 1, he was shifted to Ward 2 this term to accommodate Harish Patel, an aide of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) working president Hardik Patel in Ward 1. Harish Patel won his maiden contest from Ward 1 along with four-term corporator Pushpa Waghela and colleagues Ami Ravat and Jaha Desai, who will now be in their second term from the ward.

The BJP effortlessly formed its panel of four corporators in 16 wards –except wards 1, 13 and 16.

Of these, ward 9 was an addition compared to the tally of the party in 2015, where all four seats of Ward 9 were won by the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP), led by Rajesh Ayare, who had parted ways with BJP in April that year.

Ayare, who rejoined the BJP just days ahead of the announcement of the tickets by the party, did not contest the polls but fielded his 22-year-old son, Shrirang, who won by a thumping margin of 20,111 votes. Three of the four Congress candidates in Ward 9 lost their deposit money as the BJP panel won by margins of over 15000 votes each– BJP’s Umisha Vasava winning with a margin of 19680 against Mina Vasava of the Congress and BJP’s Narsinh Chauhan won against Congress’ Manu Solanki by a margin of 18515 votes.

The BJP also gained two additional seats in Ward 16, which has been a traditional Congress bastion by breaking the party’s panel. While 71-year-old Chandrakant Shrivastav, the oldest contestant in the race and Congress’ Leader of Opposition won his seat from Ward 16 along with colleague Alka Patel, BJP’s Snehal Patel and Ghanshyam Solanki defeated Congres’ Suvarna Pawar and Gaurang Sutharia respectively.

Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil, who arrived in Vadodara to congratulate the party workers, said, “People were talking about anti-incumbency. But they don’t realise that BJP workers, when they win elections, they do so with the feeling of serving the people… The way the Congress lost across Gujarat, it was expected. The campaign of Congress-mukt-Bharat that was started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been brought to almost reality by the voters. Congress laughed at our Page Pramukh concept. But this is the doing of our Page Pramukhs.”

On Tuesday evening, Congress submitted a written complaint to the State Election Commission through the Returning Officer for Ward 4,5 and 6, alleging that the Electronic Voting Machines used during the polls and those brought out during the counting process bore mismatched Control Unit (CU) numbers.

The submission came after a long face off and dharna between the Congress and also NCP workers against the police and election officers, when the election officers refused to entertain the complaint at first. Congress general secretary Rutvij Joshi said, “We have sought recounting with the EVM machine that was used for polling in Ward 4 and Ward 6. The ones they brought out were not the same. They refused to accept our written complaint and sent the police to throw us out of the counting centre. But we have decided to approach the Gujarat High Court with all evidences that we have of this foulplay.”

“Congress is always graceful in accepting the people’s mandate. We have been among the people to resolve their issues for the last 25 years although we have never been voted to power. We will continue to do so,” city Congress president Prashant Patel said adding that the party’s candidates have been defeated by extremely small margins in many seats.

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