bjpBy DP Bhattacharya, ET Bureau |


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.

Apart from chief minister Anandiben Patel and BJP national vice-president Purushottam Rupala, most senior leaders were hardly seen campaigning for the elections. Even Rupala and Patel had to face the wrath of the Patidar community on a few occasions, with even women chasing them away once. But BJP leaders admit that the discontent among farmers and rising prices cast a shadow on the results .

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.

 The CM admitted, while addressing party workers at Khanpur office in Ahmedabad, that the results in the districts were not on expected lines. “We shall analyse the results to see where things went wrong and will try to correct them,” she said