Congress sees win in rural areas as stepping stone for 2017 polls

Monday, Dec 7, 2015,11:55 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Ahmedabad | Congress is hoping to build on the gains in rural local bodies election, dubbed as the semi- final, to end BJP’s 20-year in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls, while the result has come as a wake-up call for the ruling party.

A rattled state BJP government announced many pro-farmer decisions in just three days after the local bodies elections, including giving land on concessional rates to APMCs and farmers’ groups, release of Narmada water for farmers and setting up food parks in five rural areas.

Results in rural areas of Gujarat are not as per our expectations. But we will win over rural areas by our pro-people decisions and developmental works before the 2017 polls, state BJP minister Raman Vora said. Out of power for 20 years, the Congress recently won 21 of the 31 district panchayats and 124 of the 230 taluka panchayats, while the BJP retained its hold over all six municipal corporations and 40 of 56 municipalities.

After its battering in Bihar, BJP’s loss in rural local bodies in Gujarat comes more than a year after Narendra Modi, who ruled the state for 12 years, shifted to Delhi. An upbeat Congress sees its win in district and taluka panchayats as a big opportunity to return to power in the next Assembly polls. This result is a stepping stone for the party for the 2017 polls, Congress leader Ahmed Patel said.

Two years of agrarian distress due to insufficient rains coupled with flood-like situation in some districts and the alleged poor response to it by state government is considered as the main reasons for BJP’s bad performance in rural areas. On top of it, the Patel quota agitation erased the support base of BJP in rural areas which allowed Congress to make a big comeback in the countryside of Gujarat.

To keep up the pressure on BJP government, Congress last week also announced protest programmes if the arrested Patel community leader Hardik Patel and other youths, who spearheaded the agitation seeking quota under OBC category, were not released. This is the sign of BJP’s downfall in the state. We will make a comeback in 2017.

This is just the semi-final, state Congress unit chief Bharatsinh Solanki said. Meanwhile, sensing an opportunity to emerge as a third alternative in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to revive its Gujarat unit. Party leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh addressed AAP workers here yesterday to form a credible organisation. People have given votes to Congress due to absence of a better alternative here, Singh said.