Maybe the BJP too did not expect the sweep it did in the local body elections held across 16 districts on Sunday, given that it was the first after the demonetisation announcement and the party had been jittery.
This result (893 seats) also means Fadnavis now has the bragging rights when it comes to a possible tie-up with the Shiv Sena for the BMC elections in a couple of months' time (see box). Gujarat Congress conceded its defeat and vowed to work hard for the people.
"Unless the leaders take an aggressive stand against the government and create awareness among the people, nothing will work for the party". The elections happened after the Prime Minister's decision to ban R500 and R1,000 notes, which had come under criticism, raising the opposition's hopes that it would reflect negatively for the BJP in the ballot boxes. Out of 15 Taluka Panchayat by-elections, the BJP won five, while the Congress won four.
According to the preliminary reports, the Hyderabad-based party has won 04 seats in Shahada - a small town near Dhule in North Maharashtra and 02 seats in Beed district. In 2011, the Shiv Sena had won 264 seats. Right from Vapi in south Gujarat to Gondal in Saurashtra region, people have chosen BJP over Congress.
In Gujarat district panchayat, taluka panchayat and Nagarpalika bypolls the BJP wons 23 seats and Congress could manage just 8 seats.
Congratulating the state party unit, Prime Minister Modi also thanked the people of Gujarat for showing faith in the party. Though final results are yet to be announced, BJP is running ahead on nearly 23 seats.
"The PM described the move as a fight against black money and said it is for the welfare of poor", Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.
In the keenly contested elections, the BJP virtually made it a prestige issue as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP state President Raosaheb Danve campaigned in many areas. After winning maximum number of posts in Maharashtra and Gujarat civic elections, the BJP said "wisdom should now dawn on the Opposition parties stalling Parliament (on demonetisation) and the impasse should be resolved".
But the people appear to have rejected the campaign, Pandya said, adding the result was a "moral victory" for his party. He said, "As long as the Congress leadership continue to sideline meritorious candidates it won't be able to grow".