Congratulations Gujarat for seeing through the design of and defeating the ‘Delhi Sultanate’.
Narendra Modi, who had turned the civic elections into a referendum on himself, retained all six municipal corporations that voted on Sunday.
Of the total 558 seats in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Vadodara and Surat, 444 went to the BJP.
“Certainly the results do not match our expectations. We need to introspect,” senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said.
In the run-up to the elections there was no evidence of a wave, and given the dissidence in the BJP and the arrest of junior home minister Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, there was speculation that the party might not do well.
But it managed a repeat of its 2005 performance, when it had won 398 of the total 486 seats. The total number of seats has gone up after delimitation. The BJP’s share of the seats has slipped only 2 per cent since 2005.
Modhwadia admitted the results were a humiliating defeat for the Congress. “It was primarily because of organisational weakness at the city level,” he said. The Congress won only 101 seats, less than a quarter of the BJP’s tally.
In Ahmedabad, the BJP won 148 seats and the Congress 38; in Vadodara, the BJP got 61 and the Congress 11; in Bhavnagar, the BJP won 40 and the Congress 11; in Rajkot, the BJP won 58 and the Congress 11; in Surat, the BJP got 98 and the Congress 14; and in Jamnagar, the BJP won 35 and the Congress 16 seats.
Political analyst Hari Desai said the Congress lost because it has no effective leader who could match Modi’s efficiency and his manipulative skills. The chief minister succeeded in branding the Congress a “Muslim party”. He went around campaigning that the Congress was planning to install a statue of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, turning the embarrassment of the fake encounter case into an election advantage. He also branded Amit Shah’s arrest as “evidence of the misuse” of the CBI.
The Congress allowed Modi to set the agenda and could not challenge his brand of politics, said social scientist and Gandhian Tridip Suhurd. It only reacted, he said. The Congress was unable to engage in political dialogue with Modi although there were so many civic issues that could have been made election issues, he said.
Modi’s victory is a “colossal failure” of the Congress party as an organisation and as an electoral machine, Suhurd said.