GANDHINAGAR: More than the Patidar agitation, it was rural discontent and farm crisis that has led to the biggest electoral setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat in the last two decades. This is evident in the sharp rural-urban divide the results of the local body polls announced on Thursday have shown.
While BJP retained its grip over the six municipal corporations, losing some seats, it suffered majorly in the district and taluka panchayats and lost a few municipalities, too, to the Congress.
State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki told ET, “this is the biggest setback for BJP in Gujarat in the last two decades. People of Gujarat from Ambaji to Umargam and Kutch to Dahod have bl e s s e d Congress in this election. All one can say is that this is an indication of what to expect in the next assembly elections.” The development has injected a fresh lease of life for the state Congress while it could lead to political machinations in the state BJP
“It is too early to say how things would go from here,” said a senior BJP leader. “Everyone is keeping their cards close to their chests, but the days ahead should be interesting.” BJP leaders admit that the show was worse than expected in rural areas. “It turned out worse than we had anticipated and that is not a very good news for the party,” said the leader.
A BJP leader from Saurashtra, where the party lost nine district panchayats out of 11 to Congress, said: “Farmers were unhappy with the support price of cotton and groundnut and also with rising prices.” “On the one hand, the government had done too little to address issues of rural people and failed to provide succour with good prices for their agro produce,” said Arjun Modhwadia, former president of the Gujarat Congress.