Ground Slips From Under BJP’s Feet in Gujarat Local Polls
Hardik Patel in custody:waiting for bail
NEW DELHI: Patidar leader Hardik Patel has been in jail for over a month now, but despite this he seems to have succeeded in weakening the BJP hold on Gujarat. The party has lost rural ground to the Congress in the civic polls, retaining only ten of the 30 district panchayats it had won in 2010.
The Congress has won 21 of the 31 district panchayats. The BJP has held on to the urban areas winning all the six municipal corporations and 40 of the 56 municipalities. But the rural shift away has rung alarm bells in the party with Chief Minister Anandiben Patel admitting that “we will now have to analyse what went wrong. We will find out and address these problems.”
Both the Congress party and the BJP have attributed the results partially to the Hardik Patel factor, and a division within the Patel community. The benefit, sources said, went to the Congress party particularly in the rural areas where the disaffection with the state government is growing rapidly as well. The Congress party is particularly happy with the results, as this constitutes a comeback of sorts in Gujarat where it has been barely visible on the ground.
Hardik Patel who took Gujarat by storm, panicking the state government, was slapped with sedition and waging war charges and jailed.The Gujarat high court has quashed charges of 'waging war' framed by the state government against the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti chief Hardik Patel. The court also struck down charges of 'promoting enmity' between different groups and 'indulging in acts prejudicial for maintenance of harmony and national integration' framed against him. Patel is likely to be released on bail.
Recent elections have registered a downslide for the BJP. The Bihar Assembly election results have been well covered, with the Grand Alliance led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sweeping to victory. However, in Uttar Pradesh as well the BJP lost valuable ground to the Bahujan Samaj party despite the fact that the districts of this large state have been re-worked by the party for its ‘love jihad’ campaign, its ‘ghar wapsi’ push, with the landscape being dotted by communal unrest. BJP President Amit Shah has been focusing on UP, that will go to the polls only in 2017, but is crucial for any political party wanting to continue in power, or come to power, in the centre.
The UP civic poll results have given a jolt to the BJP, more so it has lost 40 of the 48 zila parishads in Varanasi, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s adopted village. The BJP fared poorly in the constituencies of its important leaders, including Yogi Adityanath who has been in the forefront since the government came to power, as well as Murli Manohar Joshi.he party has lost heavily in Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s home constituency, Lucknow where it has won only four of the 20 odd seats. Clearly Shah will have to do more in UP, with reports suggesting that the BJP has decided to continue with its hard line policy in the state in the belief that polarising politics will pay dividends.
Interestingly, there was no sign of a Congress revival in UP either with the Congress backed candidates in Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency Amethi and in Rae Bareli winning only 8 of 36 seats, and six of 34 seats respectively of the 36 seats. Of course the Congress claims that it has actually improved over its 2010 performance, getting three more seats---from 5 to 8--- in the zila parishad polls this time around.
UP has in fact voted in these local elections for the Bahujan Samaj party with the Samajwadi party first family also facing a hostile vote in their respective areas. The emergence of the BSP is being seen as significant, as it is far ahead of the others. Clearly the Mayawati vote bank exists, with the former chief minister looking straight at the 2017 Assembly elections in the state. The BSP for instance won 25 of 49 seats in Saharanpur, 15 of 41 in Faizabad and 13 of 25 in Hathras in a performance that has made Mayawati again the cynosure of all political eyes.