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BJP wrests Congress bastion in Gujarat

Friday, September 17, 2010 08:29:52 PM, IANS

Gandhinagar: It was a perfect birthday gift for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) easily won for the first time the Kathlal assembly seat, a Congress bastion.

Kanubhai Dabhi of the BJP bagged 62,120 votes against 40,573 votes of Congress' Ghelabhai Jhala to wrest the seat in Kaira district.

With the win, the BJP now has 123 seats in the 182-member assembly. The Congress has 54 seats.

Overjoyed BJP leaders termed it the best gift for Modi on his 60th birthday.

Modi was unrelenting in his criticism of the Congress at a victory rally held at Kathlal in the evening.

"It is a defeat for the forces of negativism and the CBI-Congress conspiracy," he said in a reference to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout case in which former home minister Amit Shah was arrested.

The chief minister said investigative reporters needed to probe why the Election Commission ordered a re-poll in six polling booths without any provocation, complaint or violence.

The result has come as a morale booster for the BJP as Gujarat goes into election mode with a string of local self government body elections lined up over the next month or so.

The BJP victory comes within a week of the announcement of the elections to six of seven key municipal corporations -- Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar Oct 10.

Elections to the district and taluka panchayats and municipalities will be held Oct 21. This includes 24 of the 26 district panchayats, 208 of the 225 taluka panchayats and 53 municipalities.

District Congress president Ramsinh Parmar attributed the BJP victory to large-scale misuse of official machinery.

The polling in Kathlal was held Sep 13 with over 62 percent of people voting. The by-election followed the death of Congress legislator Gautam Zala, who represented the seat.

A BJP spokesperson said the by-election result reflected the mindset of the common man in the state.

"The Narendra Modi charisma will ensure a sweep for the ruling party in the ensuing civic elections," he added.

The Congress disagreed.

"In an isolated election, the dice is loaded heavily in favour of the ruling party. It can pit everything at its command to force a result in its favour," a party spokesperson said.

"Things are much different when elections are spread over a wide area. The municipal corporation and panchayat elections will throw up many surprises," he said.






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