The Congress on Thursday continued to maintain the winning streak it started in Rajasthan in the 2008 State Assembly elections by sweeping all four mayoral posts and cornering a majority of posts of directly elected chairpersons of 46 civic bodies across the State. The party won a clear majority in 15 of the civic bodies.
The BJP, the main opposition party in the State and till now the favourite of the urban centres, lagged far behind with a majority only in eight civic bodies.
In the remaining civic bodies, the Congress was at the 50 per cent mark in three while the BJP was similarly placed in two. No party or group got a majority in 14 other civic bodies. In the previous elections, when the total number was 45, the BJP had gained majority in 33 civic bodies against the Congress’ 11.
The election results announced on Thursday came as a major boost for the Gehlot Government in the State which would be completing its first year in office in December. The outcome of the polls, held on Monday, also came as a reassurance to the Congress which had to share one of the two State Assembly seats with the BJP in the recent by-elections. The Congress had won 20 of the 25 seats from Rajasthan in this year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Out of the 1,612 municipal wards to which elections were held for the posts of councillors/ward members, the Congress won in 716, the BJP in 567 and the Independents in 300. The nominees of the Bahujan Samaj Party won eight seats, those of the CPI (M) three and the Nationalist Congress Party one.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hailed the election results as an expression of public confidence in the policies pursued by his government over the past 11 months. “It is a historic win for the Congress as it could elect its candidates as Mayors in all four Corporation in the first direct elections,” said Mr. Gehlot, who initiated the system of direct elections. He attributed the victory to the leadership of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and to the policies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Out of the 46 directly elected posts of Mayors/chairpersons/presiding officers, the Congress won 29 and the BJP 10. Barring Jaipur, the Congress established a clear majority in all other municipal corporations—Jodhpur, Kota and Bikaner. Out of the 11 municipal councils the nominees of the Congress won six, the BJP three and Independents two.
Even when Jaipur and Kota elected Congress mayors for the first time in electoral history, the party could not secure a majority in Jaipur’s civic body as BJP nominees won in 46 of the 77 wards. Against this, the Congress registered a convincing victory in Kota by grabbing 42 of the 60 wards. Among the directly elected chairpersons are six Independents and a nominee of the BSP, who won from Rajgarh in Churu district.
In Jaipur, which witnessed a keen contest, Jyoti Khandelwal of the Congress defeated Suma Sharma of the BJP by 26,905 votes. The seat is reserved for women. In Jodhpur, Rameshwar Dadich of the Congress defeated the BJP’s Prasan Chand by 34,472 votes. The winner of the mayoral poll in Kota, Ratna Jain of the Congress, defeated her BJP rival Aruna Agarwal by 49,679 votes. In Bikaner, veteran Congress leader Bhawani Shankar Sharma defeated BJP’s Gopal Lal Gehlot by 27,601 votes.
A major setback for the Congress was in the Udaipur municipality where the BJP’s Rajini Dangi defeated the Congress’ Neelima Sukhadia by 10,312 votes.