Ahmedabad: In what could be a setback to the ruling BJP in crucial civic polls in Gujarat, the Congress is leading in district and taluka panchayats even as the saffron party is ahead in corporations and municipalities, as initial counting trends start pouring in from across the state. The BJP had held almost all the local bodies earlier in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The civic elections have also assumed significance for the ruling party in the backdrop of Patel quota agitation and being the first major political battle for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
The Congress has surged ahead in nine district panchayats of the state, while the BJP is leading in four out of the total 31 district panchayats that went to polls. In the last election, the Congress had only won the Tapi district panchayat.
The BJP, however, is ahead in all the six municipal corporations that went to polls, including Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Vadodara. All the municipal corporations were earlier held by BJP.
The ruling party is also doing reasonably well in the 56 municipalities. However, in the 230 taluka panchayats, the Congress is doing well at the initial stage, State Election Commission officials said.
In the prestigious Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls, the BJP is ahead in more than 50 seats, while the Congress is leading in 15 seats out of total of 192 seats. However, in a major upset, the Congress is leading its way to win the Rajkot district panchayat, where it is ahead in 22 seats out of total 40, while BJP is ahead in one seat. In the last elections, the BJP had won 26 seats there and the Congress 14 seats.
The voting for six municipal corporations was held on November 26, while that for 31 district panchayats, 230 taluka panchayats and 56 municipalities was held on November 29. Though the voting for the six municipal corporations was as low as 45 per cent, for other semi-urban and rural bodies it was over 60 per cent.
For the BJP and Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, the polls are being seen as a challenge as they were held after the Patel quota stir and in absence of Narendra Modi. The Congress is hoping to make a comeback in the state, riding on the Patel quota agitation.
The Patel leaders, who had launched a stir for inclusion under OBC category for reservation, had during the poll campaign told their community members to vote against the BJP, and in favour of the Congress.