The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Godhra goes to civic-high BJP

Ahmedabad, Feb. 20: After sweeping the Assembly polls, chief minister Narendra Modi’s gameplan has worked again in the nagarpalika and taluka elections.

Conveniently postponing these elections four times, the BJP held the polls only after it wrested a three-fourth share in the Assembly. The party has now raced past the Congress at the nagarpalika (civic body) and taluka levels.

The BJP has not only captured 54 nagarpalikas of the 89 that went to the polls, it also bagged 1,266 talukas of the 2,331 for which results have been declared so far. The results have reiterated the BJP’s growing influence in the urban areas.

The Congress, hardly recovered from the Assembly poll debacle, is faced with another abysmal performance. Even the Independents, who won in 532 talukas, have fared better than the Congress, which won only 498 seats. The party’s only saving grace has been its victory at the Gandhinagar taluka panchayat.

In the afterglow of the Assembly windfall, the BJP captured the Godhra municipality for the first time. Godhra, which has a BJP MLA, had been a Congress stronghold with the party itself ruling the municipality or Independents backed by it.

The Congress, however, can take succour from the tough fight it gave the BJP in the rural taluka panchayats. Of 312 seats that went to the polls, the party captured 138 against the BJP’s 148. Putting up a brave face, Congress leaders said things are not as bad as they look. “These election results show that the Congress is gaining ground,” said Hasmukh Patel, the state Congress vice-president.

The BJP, he said, postponed the polls for the last three years and waited till it achieved a majority in the Assembly.

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