Congress Grabs Junagadh
Rajkot/Ahmedabad: When BJP lost the recent Lok Sabha elections, Chief Minister Narendra Modi escaped blame by the skin of his teeth.
The BJP in Gujarat still won 15 seats, one more than previously. The Modi camp placed the blame for the defeat elsewhere at the feet of central leadership and a weak prime ministerial candidate.
Two months after the debacle, the Gujarat CM can only blame himself for an embarrassing defeat in the Junagadh civic elections, the results of which were announced on Tuesday. The Congress scored a major upset here winning 26 seats out of 51, in a watershed election where Modi’s romance with Muslims has landed the BJP on the rocks.
All five Muslim candidates, which the BJP put up for the first time, lost badly. The experiment backfired as the traditional Hindutva vote shifted away in a town where Patels, comprising nearly a quarter of the electorate, deserted the BJP almost en masse.
In his usual style, Modi had discarded 29 out of 35 sitting BJP councillors and put up some fresh faces, including heavyweights like a former Union minister, former state minister and a sitting MLA. His gamble was clear — even if the Muslim candidates lost the seats, he was still confident of getting a majority with a mix of fresh faces and oldtimers.
It didn’t work that way and many in the BJP are now seriously questioning the methods of Modi, who should have drawn lessons from the warning signals which came out loud and clear in the last Lok Sabha elections. For the first time in more than two decades, the BJP lost the Rajkot parliamentary seat — the surest of all Saurashtra seats.
Yet, when his critics started pointing out in the wake of the Lok Sabha defeat that Modi’s Hindu hardliner image would always come in the way of his national ambitions, Modi decided to make a calculated overture towards Muslims in Junagadh.
He called upon BJP cadres to woo “nationalist Muslims” into the party fold. Coming from Modi, dubbed ‘Gujarat ka Sher’ by his fans, this was a message which left the BJP’s core support base aghast in real lion country.
JUNAGADH CIVIC POLLS
Total 51 BJP’s Junagadh falls It May Have Been Only A Civic Election In A City Of Three Lakh Persons, But The Implications For BJP Are Enormous
BJP lost because of Modi: Modhwadia
Gandhinagar: As news of a Congress victory in Junagadh civic polls spread BJP offices wore a deserted look.
“This is not BJP’s defeat. It is Chief Minister Narendra Modi who has lost,” said Congress spokesperson Arjun Modhwadia. “The people of Junagadh were not carried away by the announcement of Rs 600 crore for developing tourism in the Junagadh. Modi had given tickets to five Muslim leaders but the experiment failed. Modi had put his entire cabinet and all MLAs in Junagadh but they were not successful,” he said.
Modhwadia said that this was the defeat of the BJP and Modi who had even violated the model code of conduct and had made an announcement of Rs 600 crore for tourism in Junagadh. “The BJP even went a step ahead and fielded senior leaders. But these heavyweights were shown the door by our young brigade,” he said.
The BJP tried to put up a brave face. “We will sit together and analyse the reasons for the defeat. It is the people’s verdict and we accept it,” said state BJP president, Purshottam Rupala.
“The Congress may have won more seats but the party polled only 1,20,533 votes against which the BJP got 1,34,739 votes,” said BJP spokesperson IK Jadeja.
Modi’s lieutenants get it wrong in Junagadh
Here is the duo Narendra Modi banked upon heavily to retain ground in Saurashtra, which saw protests in the wake of Keshubhai Patel’s ouster. After party’s poor show in the region in recent Lok Sabha polls and the drubbing in Junagadh on Tuesday, state party president Purushottam Rupala and election in-charge Vijay Rupani are worried men.
Purushottam Rupala,Modi promoted this school teacher-turned-politician from Amreli to assuage feelings of Patel community, which felt wronged by the unceremonious exit of Keshubhai. BJP’s state party chief and a Rajya Sabha MP, Rupala will have to do a lot of answering as the party has lost all nine seats in Patel-dominated areas.
Vijay Rupani,Considered Modi’s blue-eyed boy, Rupani’s rise within the party has very fast. He was asked to oversee party’s campaign for Lok Sabha polls in Saurashtra. Subsequently, he was also made the in-charge of the crucial Junagadh civic polls. Following the party’s defeat in Junagadh, many within the party have started questioning his recent appointment as co-ordinator of all BJP MPs in the state.
Reference : Times of India 22nd July 2009.