- The Congress made in-roads into rural Gujarat while the BJP retained all the urban centres.
- This was Chief Minister Anandiben Patel\'s first electoral test after Narendra Modi, who had a successful run in the state for three terms, left for Delhi.
- While questions abound whether the BJP is losing its sheen in the state due to the Patidar agitation, what stands out is the fact that the party improved its tally in the very hotbed of the Hardik Patel led movement.
- Does it mean that the movement has fizzled out without any political party backing their cause openly?
The BJP's losing ground in Gujarat has been attributed to the Patel quota agitation and the slapping of sedition charges against Patidar leader Hardik Patel. However, a post analysis of the party's performance in the civic polls has thrown up an interesting fact.
In the Patel agitation hotbed Viramgam, Ahmedabad, the BJP has fared far better than last time, in fact, by a tally of 16 seats.
And now the clincher. Viramgam is the hometown of Hardik Patel, who is currently behind bars!
Has the Patidar agitation fizzled out?
The Indian Express quoted a BJP leader saying that it was in fact the anti-Patel votes and a low turnout in the six metros that helped the party retain its winning streak in a state where it has won elections since the last decade.
Local media reports imply that the Patel agitation has failed to live up to its expectations. They attribute Congress' success in the civic polls more to anti-incumbency than to a success of the Patel agitation.
No stand taken by the Congress on the Patidar issue
Nine Patels were killed during the Patel reservation stir in Ahmedabad. The Congress tried to capitalize on the community's anger and gave tickets to the wives of two jailed Patidar agitators charged with sedition.
Plus, Hardik Patel's photos were extensively used on Congress posters. Where the Congress perhaps erred was never clearly stating whether it supports a quota for the Patels or not while milking it for electoral benefit.
As a result, the party could not turn the Patel sentiments in its favour and could improve its tally by 11 in Ahmedabad. Moreover, this minor gain is being attributed to the anti-incumbency factor rather than the Patel agitation.
Vadodara too didn't respond to the Patel agitation where the Congress could increase its tally by only 6 seats. Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel is an MLA from Vadodara. However, some prominent Patel leaders from the BJP did face defeat. Mohan Kundaria, Haribhai Chaudhry, Nitin Patel, Rajni Patel and Vijay Rupani all lost their seats.
The Patel-dominated places where the Congress did very well are Surat and Rajkot, increasing its tally by 22 and 23 seats, respectively.
The Congress also gained ground in the BJP stronghold of Morbi where a jailed Patel leader Nilesh Arvadiya's wife contested on a Congress ticket.
However, if at all the Patel agitation did help the Congress, it can only be called a freak win as the party leadership either in state or at the Centre hadn't really backed Hardik Patel's demand for reservation. So piggybacking on their sentiments might not have a long term impact.
What is the over all verdict?
The BJP has managed to retain its lead in all the six municipal corporations - Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Jamangar and Bhavnagar - which went to polls last month. The Congress trounced BJP. However, it was in the district panchayats that the Congress edged past the BJP. Out of 31 district Panchayats, the Congress won over 21.