The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might be hailing its victory in the recent Gujarat civic polls as people's endorsement of demonetisation, but the results serve as an authentication for the newly appointed Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Tuesday's results, regardless of the reasons, are crucial for both Rupani and the ruling BJP as the state is going to polls next year.
Of the 126 municipal and district panchayat seats from the 16 districts in which the by-elections were held, BJP won 109, gaining 40 seats from the Congress. It was just the previous year that the BJP had lost the municipal elections under the leadership of the then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who had to eventually make way for Rupani post the loss and after the badly handled Patidar agitation.
For an election held primarily in areas which have been seeing long queues and stalled farmer and industrial payments since demonetisation, the results have come as a welcome relief for the party, which can now claim that the people of the state have voted in favour of the move.
“The results are a pointer to the opposition which has been alleging that people are facing inconvenience and are not with the decisions of the BJP and the prime minister,” said BJP state general secretary Shabdasharan Brahmbhatt.
The results of the panchayat elections last year, in which the rural areas were wrested by the Congress from the BJP, had forced the ruling party to rethink its strategy. Especially, since this is one state that both party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not want to lose — as it is their home state.
Recently, Gujarat had featured in the headlines because of the Patidar agitation and the Dalit uprising. Many blamed the loss of rural areas on the anger of the Patels and other castes against the BJP, despite the fact that the party was led by a Patel leader from North Gujarat.
But the results of this by-election, which includes a victory in Saurashtra region and the industrial belt of Vapi in South Gujarat, point to the fact that the party has gained some of the lost ground ahead of the crucial Assembly elections due next year.
Since Modi became the prime minister in 2014, Rupani is the second nominated chief minister in the state. Though Anandiben was hand-picked by Modi, the electoral losses and frequent agitations in the state forced the central leadership to rethink and appoint a replacement.
Tuesday’s result will come as a breather for the chief minister and the party leadership, who will now be looking to consolidate on the victory by ensuring that there are no further agitations in the state that could grab national attention ahead of the polls next year.
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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2016 08:24:29 IST