The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has further strengthened its political hold on Gujarat, showed the civic poll results on February 23. While the final numbers were yet to be out, the BJP was massively ahead of the rival Congress.
The ruling party was leading in all the six municipal corporations that went to polls on February 21. Out of the total 576 seats, it was ahead in 409, as per the trends available by the time this report was published.
The Congress, which had won 174 of these 576 seats in the 2015 civic polls, was so far leading only in 44 seats. The party's prospects were also damaged by the entry of Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The AAP, to the surprise of pollsters, has won 27 seats, as per the results declared so far. All the victories were scored by the party in Surat, whereas the BJP won the remainder of 93 seats in the civic body. The Congress ended up drawing a blank in the city.
The AAP also emerged as second in 13 seats of Rajkot and 15 seats of Ahmedabad, party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said. Kejriwal would be holding a road-show in Surat to "thank the voters" on February 26.
In Ahmedabad, the BJP was leading in 101 out of 192 seats, whereas the Congress candidates were ahead in only 15 wards.
In Rajkot, the BJP was ahead in 56 out of the 72 seats. The Congress was yet to open its account.
Jamnagar was also swept by the BJP, which was ahead in 43 out of the 64 seats. The Congress was leading in six wards of the urban civic body.
Bhavanagar, a region where the Congress performed impressively in the last assembly polls, also witnessed a BJP wave as the party was ahead in 31 out of the 52 local body seats contested. The Congress was leading in only five wards.
Vadodara, which was one of the hotspots of the Patidar quota movement that rocked Gujarat from 2015-17, also voted largely for the BJP. The party was ahead in 48 out of the 76 seats, whereas the Congress was leading in only seven wards.
The civic poll results assume significance as they come in backdrop of the farmers' stir against the new agriculture reform laws. The victory will serve as a shot in the arm for the ruling BJP ahead of the assembly elections next year.
"I assure the people of Gujarat that the BJP will not let the trust placed in the BJP go to waste," Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, reacting to the civic poll results.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah lauded the leadership of Rupani as he welcomed the election results. "The results have further proven Gujarat as a citadel of the BJP. The Congress party has been completely wiped out," he said.