THE ruling BJP made a clean sweep in the six municipal corporations elections for which elections were held on October 10.
The BJP, in fact, registered two-thirds majority in five corporations except in Jamnagar.
Elections were held in 555 seats of 186 wards spread over important cities, like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Jamnagar.
The landslide victory of the BJP in the six civic bodies representing all regions of the State augurs well for the party and is likely to be a positive indicator to the results of the Nagar Palika and Panchayat elections scheduled on October 21.
Modi’s strategy of using the Sohrabuddin episode as the election agenda has worked wonders once again as the BJP not only retained control over all the six municipal corporations in the State but also improved its tally in some of them.
This means Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s all-out attack on the Opposition-Congress- over the misuse of the CBI in the Sohrabuddin encounter case has paid rich dividends.
Though the State BJP had announced peace, development and security to be its poll plank, the campaign led by Modi himself had drifted to the Sohrabuddin encounter case -more so because former Minister of State for Home Amit Shah had been arrested in connection with the case.
Moreover, Modi had trapped the Congress just 50 hours before the campaign was to end by announcing his plan for a 182-metre metal statue of Sardar Patel on an island in the Narmada river, three kilometres downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
The Congress walked into Modi’s trap by objecting to Modi’s ‘sudden’ love for Sardar Patel evoking rejoinder from the BJP. The blunder cost the Congress heavily as Modi pilloried the Congress by declaring that the party was interested in installing statues of members of only one family (read Nehru-Gandhi).
That the humbled Congress had no inkling of the people’s mood in the big urban areas is proved by its debacle in Rajkot and Jamnagar where they were seriously hoping to gain control of the municipal corporations this time around.
In total, the BJP won 441seats in the six civic bodies while the Congress remained content with just 100 while independents won 14.
What is a bigger shock for the Congress is that many Muslim candidates given ticket by the BJP have won, unlike the last year’s experiment in Junagadh where the Muslim candidates of the BJP had lost.
However, the most high-profile Muslim nominee of the BJP, retired IPS officer AI Sayiad, has lost from Sarkhej in Ahmedabad.
The BJP has improved its tally in Ahmedabad from 96 in 2005 to 148 now as the number of seats in the city has also increased from 129 to 189 this time due to more areas on the outskirts having merged in the corporation limits.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the party workers outside the State BJP office in the evening, attributed the victory to the party, adding that he is not bigger than the party.
Modi said that “the son cannot be bigger than the mother” while describing himself as “small worker of mother BJP”. He said that he owes everything to the BJP.
One plus point for Modi is that he is free from the urge to get a certificate of approval from the Left-liberal ‘secular’ media. Despite using every possible dirty trick, including the misuse of the CBI. Not only has the BJP won the elections to all the six municipal corporations but has routed the Congress comprehensively, securing two-thirds majority in all civic bodies.
What makes the election results significant is that they reflect popular mood in important urban centres spread across Gujarat. The results, no doubt, reaffirm the fact that Modi remains the tallest leader in Gujarat and his popularity transcends caste, class and community. This is as much on account of his undiminished charisma as the development-driven, growth- oriented governance that has come to be identified with Modi. Gujarat remains a shining example of what small Government, maximum governance can achieve, apart from the positive impact that corruption-free administration has on society.
After completing nine years in office, Modi remains untouched by the slightest hint of anti-incumbency.
There’s a lesson in this for the Congress which has come to believe that trickery and deceit, coupled with gross abuse of power, can help dislodge State Governments over which it has no control. The people have given a fitting reply to the shameful manner in which a compromised CBI has been unleashed on Modi, his colleagues and upright senior police officers to harass and intimidate them and tarnish the image of the BJP. Ironically, the ill-conceived ‘strategy’ of the Congress’ ‘high command’ has not only horribly misfired, but also exposed the party’s publicists in sections of the media. Both deserve no more than ridicule.