The results for 2,891 out of 8,624 gram panchayats in Gujarat, which went to polls on December 27, came out on Thursday, following which both BJP and opposition Congress claimed their respective victories.
As soon as the results stared tricking in, at least two incidents of clashes were reported between groups of rival candidates in Vadodara and Banskantha districts.
While the ruling party has hailed their “win” in the aftermath of demonetization and attributed it to the “village development policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the Congress dismissed it as “tall claims” of BJP and the “victory of Rahul Gandhi over Modi”.
Gram Panchayat polls are not fought on party symbols as candidates need to fight on their personal capacity and each voter is required to cast two votes, one to elect sarpanch and another for electing panchayat member for his ward.
Votes are being counted manually as EVMs were not used in polls. “Till evening, counting is over for 2,891 gram panchayats, both for members as well as for (the posts of) sarpanch. Since counting is done manually, the process would go on till late night,” a State Election Commission official said.
BJP has claimed “80%” of elected representatives are associated with the party. “Out of those elected till now, 80% representatives have the BJP’s support. In coming days, BJP will organise ‘sarpanch conclaves’ across state to establish better coordination,” state unit BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said. He said the poll outcome is the “victory of BJP after demonetization and of policies of village development adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
Congress said “70%” elected sarpanchs are associated with the party some way or the other. “Around 70% sarpanchs elected today were directly or indirectly associated with Congress and its ideology. It’s very clear that BJP has lost this election. We are surprised about BJP’s tall claims,” state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said at a press conference. He said rural voters are not happy with BJP, mainly because of the Centre’s demonetization move.
“It was a fight between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi and it was Rahulji who came out victorious. Rural voters rejected BJP mainly because the note ban decision, which has crippled rural economy,” he added.
In the polling held in 8,624 village panchayats across for the election of members as well as sarpanchs on Tuesday, about 80.12% voter turnout was recorded.
Around 1.20 lakh candidates were in fray for 53,116 wards, whereas 26,800 candidates contested 8,527 seats of sarpanchs.
The counting process is being held at 252 places across Gujarat with the help of more than 17,300 polling staff.
As per State Election Commission, total registered voters for the polls stood at over 1.65 crore, including 79.6 lakh women.
Meanwhile, a clash broke out at Polo Ground in Vadodara as one Kanubhai Rabari was declared winner.
Kanubhai, who won as sarpanch of Kotali village, was allegedly attacked by his opponent Jagdish Rabari who lost. “As Kanubhai’s supporters were celebrating, they were attacked by a group led by Jagdish Rabari with iron rod and stick,” a Navapura police official said, adding Kanubhai was rushed to city civil hospital in a critical condition.
An FIR was lodged against six persons, including Jagdish, under various sections of IPC including 307 (attempt to murder). No arrest has been made so far.
A similar clash took place at Jorapura village in Banaskantha district when candidates belonging to Thakor community attacked each other.
At least three persons, including two women from rival groups, were injured in the incident, police said. “Two groups of candidates who had contested Gram Panchayat polls clashed with each other after the result was announced, leaving some persons of both the groups injured including two women who sustained fracture,” said Banaskantha SP Neeraj Badgujar. He said an FIR was filed against 15 persons under various sections of IPC.