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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Modi's big day: BJP sweeps municipal elections

Press Trust of India, : October 12, 2010

Ahmedabad: Ruling BJP has swept the polls to six municipal corporations in Gujarat retaining power with two-thirds majority in all but one of them, in a big victory for Chief Minister Narendra Modi who put all his might behind the civic election campaign.

Besides Ahmedabad, the BJP won the civic polls in Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot and Bhavnagar with a two-thirds majority. The party, which decimated the Congress, got a simple majority in Jamnagar.

Savouring the win, Modi profusely thanked the people of Gujarat for reposing faith in the party.

He said BJP bagged 80 per cent of the votes in almost all the places with the remaining being accounted for all the other parties and Independents put together.

The poll victories came just a few weeks after the BJP won Kachlal in Anand district in a bye-election, bagging the assembly constituency - a Congress bastion - for the first time in the history of the state.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani congratulated Modi for the spectacular showing for the party and noted that the Congress has been wiped out.

On-line voting was introduced for the first time in the civic polls.

Over 2,100 candidates were in fray for more than 558 seats for elections in six municipal corporations in Gujarat.

Ruling BJP as well as Opposition Congress had campaigned extensively and had also roped in national leaders for the polls.

The BJP had won all the six municipal corporations in the last elections held in 2005

It had made the arrest of Amit Shah, close aide of Modi, by CBI in Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, as one of the main issues, as all its national leaders alleged that the arrest amounted to misuse of CBI by the Congress and asked people to give its mandate through the ballot papers.

During the campaign, Modi also took a swipe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the tardy pace of preparations for the ongoing Commonwealth games in Delhi.

Congress on the other hand had focussed more on local issues saying that the corporation polls were about civic amenities and highlighted assistance given to the state under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission for development of infrastructure in cities.

In Ahmedabad, the BJP has so far won 129 of the 156 seats declared with results for remaining 33 seats yet to be announced.

The saffron party notched 95 of the 114 seats in Surat while it bagged 61 of the 75 in Vadodara.

The Rajkot Municipal Corporation where BJP won 58 seats in the 69-member house was the only civic body where it could not get a two-third majority.

The Congress bagged the remaining 11 seats and improved its tally by one from 10 it had won in the 2005 elections. Among the winners were Mayor Sandhyaben Vyas of BJP.

Modi had campaigned extensively in Rajkot addressing three public rallies in the last week of campaigning.

Accepting defeat, local Congress leaders said they had expected a good show in the RMC polls by the party as it had wrested the Rajkot Lok Sabha seat from the BJP after many years during the 2008 parliamentary polls.

BJP retained its two-third majority in the Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation (BMC), bagging 41 out of the 51 seats with Congress winning the rest.

BJP, which had won 39 seats in the 2005 BMC elections, improved its tally by two, while the Congress saw its seat strength reduce from 12 to 10.

The ruling party had emerged as a clear favourite in Bhavnagar due to infighting and absence of strong local leaders in the Congress.

Elections to the BMC were held two months earlier than scheduled, as the BJP decided to go for the polls along with the other five other municipal corporations in the state on October 10.

BJP retained a clear majority in the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) pocketing 35 seats out of 57.

Opposition Congress won 16 seats, while Independents (3), NCP(1), BSP (1), and SP (1) bagged the remaining seats.

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