BJP attributes victory to Modi, but he says he is not bigger than party
Continuing its domination in Gujarat, particularly urban areas, the Bharatiya Janata Party has recaptured all six municipal corporations in Sunday's local bodies elections.
As counting began on Tuesday, the BJP maintained a steady lead and ended up securing a more than two-thirds majority in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar. It missed the two-thirds majority target in Jamnagar by three seats.
Of the 555 seats in contention in the six corporations, the BJP claimed 441, the Congress 100 and independents just 14. Even in e-voting, introduced for the first time in the country, the BJP polled 312 of the 369 votes polled in the six cities; the Congress got only 37 and others 20.
Vastly improving its performance in Ahmedabad, where the number of seats increased to 189 from 129 in the 2005 civic elections following delimitation, the BJP increased its tally from 96 to 148, while the Congress inched from 32 to 38 seats with three seats going to independents.
The story was almost the same in Surat, where the number of seats went up from 102 to 114 and the BJP's count from 90 to 98 and the Congress' from 11 to 14 with two seats going to independents.
In both Rajkot (69 seats) and Bhavnagar (51), both rivals gave almost a repeat performance, the BJP's strength going down by one seat from 59 to 58 and the Congress tally increasing from 10 to 11 in Rajkot, while in Bhavnagar the BJP gained two seats from 39 to 41 and the Congress down by two from 12 to 10.
In Vadodara, where the number of seats decreased from 84 in 2005 to 75 this time, the BJP's tally also declined from 76 to 61 while the Congress improved from seven to 11 with three seats going to independents.
The most impressive performance of the non-BJP parties was in Jamnagar where the total number of seats increased from 51 to 57 but the BJP strength was reduced from 37 to 35 and the Congress going up from nine to 16 with six seats going to independents.
The victorious BJP candidates gave Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his development plank the credit for the party's good showing in the civic elections. Mr. Modi, however, attributed the impressive performance to the “lakhs of BJP workers.”
Addressing a victory rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday evening, Mr. Modi asked the “intellectuals” not to paint him “bigger than the party.” He said he considered himself a “small worker of the mother BJP,” and a “son can never become bigger than mother.” It pained him when people raise a controversy over whether it was “my victory or that of the BJP's.” The BJP had made him what he was “and I would have been nowhere but for the BJP,” the Chief Minister said.
Pradesh Congress Committee president Siddhartha Patel said his party had tried to bring to the people's notice the “falsehood going on the in the name of development” but the poll outcome proved that it had not been able to convert the people's dissatisfaction with the BJP into votes.