Who really won the panchayat polls in Gujarat. Total media blackout?
Every election since 2014 is seen as a referendum on the Narendra Modi government. When the results for by-elections to four Lok Sabha and eight Assembly constituencies in six states and one Union Territory were announced in November 2016, the Modi government positioned it as a big win and people’s positive verdict on its policies.
On December 27, as results of gram panchayat elections in more than 10,000 villages were announced in Gujarat, both the BJP and the Congress claimed that they won the majority of panchayats where polls were not contested on party symbols.
A total of 10,279 village panchayats went in for elections, of which 1,325 panchayats elected members and sarpanches without polls.
BJP claimed that it won 80% panchayats, and asserted that people in rural areas have supported the demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Modi with the votes in favour of people affiliated with the saffron party.
On the other hand, the Congress claimed that around 70% winning candidates were either Congress members or party supporters.
The BJP announced conventions for elected sarpanches at different places across the state while the Congress declared that they would hold training programmes for its sarpanches. BJP felicitated more than 8,000 newly elected sarpanches in Gandhinagar.
Preeti Sharma Menon, National Executive Member of Aam Aadmi Party, yesterday tweeted that BJP lost all 36 seats in Gujarat Panchayat elections and added that media has been warned not to let this news spread.
BJP lost all 36 seats in Gujarat Panchayat elections. Media has been warned not to let this news spread. Hum kis din kaam aayenge? 😀
— Preeti Sharma Menon (@PreetiSMenon) January 6, 2017
The arrival of ‘36 seats’ in Menon’s tweet is kind of strange given that polls were held for around 9,000 of the over 10,000 panchayats in the state.
One does not has to be a political expert to say that local body polls are won on bijli, sadak, pani. Rarely do voters in a municipal or panchayat poll pass judgement on national issues like demonetisation or any policy followed by the government in New Delhi.
The claim by both the Congress and the BJP that they have swept Gujarat panchayat polls is nothing apart from bragging ahead of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand.
But one question remains unanswered, why there was a media blackout of the poll results?