Gujarat Civic Polls: Five Key Questions on BJP, Cong, AAP & AIMIM
While BJP swept all 6 corporations, it’s important that AAP won 27 seats in Surat, AIMIM 8 in Ahmedabad.
The BJP has once again taken control of all six corporations in the Gujarat urban local body elections. It has won comfortable majorities in the Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar corporations. Here's the reported tally:
- Surat: BJP 93, AAP 27
- Rajkot: BJP 68, Congress 4
- Jamnagar: BJP 57
- Bhavnagar: BJP 44, Congress 8
- Vadodara: BJP 69, Congress 7
In Ahmedabad, the final tally is still pending. According to Zee 24 Kalak, as of 6:30 pm, BJP was leading in 160 seats, Congress in 15 and AIMIM in 8 out of 192 seats.
There are five important questions that need to be asked regarding the results.
1. How Important Is AAP's Performance?
In Surat, BJP won 93 seats, AAP 27 and Congress failed to win even one, indicating that AAP has ended up becoming the main opposition to the BJP in the city.
This is AAP's first major foray into Gujarat and takes it one step closer to its aim of becoming a national party that requires it to be recognised as a state party in four states. It is already recognised as a state party in Delhi and Punjab.
Now with one win in the Goa Zila Parishad polls and the breakthrough in Surat, AAP would fancy its chances of becoming a national party by 2022.
2. What Worked for AAP in Surat?
One major factor is support from the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), that has been demanding reservation for the Patidar community in Gujarat. PAAS representatives were reportedly upset with the Congress for not fielding many candidates suggested by them and are said to have tacitly supported the AAP in protest against both Congress and BJP.
Incidentally, AAP's Gujarat convenor Gopal Italia was earlier involved with PAAS and its former leader Hardik Patel, who is now with the Congress.
Patidars form a major chunk of the traders in Surat and their vote might have been instrumental in many of AAP's victories.
Also, there was a great deal of anger against the BJP among traders' in Surat over the Goods and Services Tax.
However, the Congress failed to capitalise on this and win seats in Surat city during the 2017 Assembly elections. The Congress' failure to convert the anti-BJP vote into victories seems to have worked in AAP's favour.
AAP carried out regular protests on local issues such as corruption in the Regional Transport Office.
3. Has AIMIM Made An Impact?
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen contested only 21 seats in Ahmedabad and it managed to get some support, leading in eight seats at the time of writing this story.
Most of these leads are in Jamalpura and Maktampura wards.
This is important as it would mean that a chunk of the Congress' support among Ahmedabad's Muslims may have shifted to the AIMIM at least at the corporation level.
This bodes well for the party which is contesting in Gujarat for the first time.
4. Does This Mean Congress Has Become Irrelevant in Gujarat?
Not quite. Historically, BJP has dominated big cities in Gujarat. Even in the 2017 Assembly polls, in which the Congress did better than the BJP in many parts of rural Gujarat, it was the BJP's stranglehold of urban Gujarat that helped it come back to power.
However, even by past standards the Congress' performance has been poor. In the previous corporation polls – in 2015 – the Congress had done reasonably well in cities like Rajkot where It won 34 against BJP's 38. This time the Congress could win just 4 out of 72 seats in Rajkot, with the BJP getting 68.
It does seem that the Congress today is weaker in Gujarat than it was in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections.
Even at its worst the Congress always had a healthy vote share in Gujarat and was always unchallenged as the main Opposition party. It is likely that AAP will now challenge this and in Muslim-concentration areas it may face a challenge from the AIMIM as well.
5. Is BJP Still Invincible in Gujarat?
In urban Gujarat, yes. It has been invincible here for some time now and the latest results show that its hold isn't going to weaken any time soon. However, rural Gujarat has been much more challenging for the BJP and this isn't likely to change.
As of now it is doubtful if the Congress will be able to put up the kind of spirited fight it did in 2017. It's also important to note that the BJP suffered some losses in 2017 due to the Patidar agitation, which has since lost steam.
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