Seven wards — Nikol, Gota, Vadaj, Asarwa, Bapunagar, Navrangpura and Thaltej — turned out to be clinchers for the state BJP’s city unit in Ahmedabad which erupted in celebrations late Wednesday morning, after the party registered win in these “critical wards”, the strongholds of the Patidars.
Incidentally, the 36-seat Viramgam municipality, which is home to Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel, saw BJP better its tally of 16 seats clocked in 2010. Congress, which fought the polls on the party symbol for the first time in a decade, won at least 11 seats, as results continued to trickle in. In the 20-member taluka panchyat, both the parties won10 seats each.
Nikol turned out to be the most decisive ward with all four BJP candidates winning. The victory was keenly watched at the BJP headquarters at Khanpur Wednesday, owing to the sporadic Patidar violence witnessed in the ward. Results of other wards that are dominated by minorities, Patidars, OBCs and SCs, like Ghatlodiya, Gota, Dani Limda and Asarwa, also drew interest at the office.
At BJP’s Khanpur office, next to the BJP president’s room, was the poll room that saw BJP vice-president and former state cabinet minister I K Jadeja, city unit president and Ellisbridge MLA Rakesh Shah, BJP state spokesperson Harshad Patel sitting glued to the TV screens around 10 am.
One of the early wins of Navrangpura is relayed on phone to two-term BJP MP Kirit Solanki, who calls on Jadeja’s phone, even as the news of BJP win in Nikol and Jodhpur ward is celebrated with talks of an impending lunch treat. “Rakeshbhai (Shah) and Bhupendrabhai (Chudasama, the education minister) will give us a huge party,” says a BJP worker, who is collecting results of the city wards in the poll room. Indicating the recent Patidar exodus back to the BJP fold before civic polls, he is quick to add, “Where are the Patidars now? They are sitting in the BJP.”
By 10.30 am, the senior trio and other BJP workers gathered in the room turn their attention to the district panchayats and taluka block panchayats referred as “villages” by someone in the group. Congratulatory messages pour in as Ahmedabad mayor Minaxiben Patel is seen on TV, waving to supporters after her win.
This good news is enough for Jadeja, who tells BJP karyakartas calling him up to celebrate each ward win with firecrackers. Young and eager Yuva Morcha members get together to begin the success party by bursting firecrackers outside the BJP office, which has a few policemen stationed on standby mode.
Another fifteen minutes turn decisive for the party workers who get updates of wins in Gota, Thaltej wards which are instantly hailed as “milestone” wins. The senior BJP trio immediately get into a huddle, with Jadeja coming out later to speak to the media even as the atmosphere in the poll room suddenly eases up and turns convivial with jokes on “Satvik lunch” being traded.
At 11:45 am, Jadeja tells mediapersons, “The BJP win is likely in six corporations. In district panchayats, the party is inching forward while in gram (block) panchayats, there is a tooth and nail fight.” Reacting to a query on BJP win in Viramgam, where PAAS leader Hardik Patel hails from, he adds, “In Viramgam, people have voted against the elements who want to disrupt the ‘peaceful’ atmosphere existing in Gujarat.”
Around 12 noon, someone asks, “Did we win Bapunagar and Vastral?” Jadeja quips, “The nagarpalika is now ours.” Someone flashes a victory sign. With the background of firecrackers bursting, the state law minister Pradipsinh Jadeja walks into a round of congratulatory messages in the poll room.
Later as news of the BJP panels winning in Asarwa, Nava Vadaj filters in, BJP workers start flashing the victory sign to each other. A worker, who is milling about the gallery area reserved for visitors, says, “The win of BJP is a given in the state even though Congress may have been doing well in villages. At least Congress is out of its slumber and out of the ICU. The BJP has already won the semi-finals. For the final match, which is the state Assembly elections in 2017, we will try to understand what the local problems at the grassroot levels in rural areas or it could have been the Patidar factor and try to rectify our errors.”
A BJP member, who is busy ticking names of ward with a cross or a tick depending on wins, lists India Colony, Nikol, Vastral, Bapunagar, Behrampura, Amraiwadi, Indrapuri wards as critical seats for the city’s BJP unit. He, however, avers that BJP’s rout in Amraiwadi was a setback. As media convenors of Ahmedabad rally around to watch the results on TV with mediapersons, calls are hastily made to arrange for a sumptuous lunch. While the city office wore a more or less deserted look in the morning, more workers start milling in after 12 am when the early trends of the poll results of the AMC showed BJP leading.
The office suddenly sprang to life as BJP members — many of whom are doctors, lawyers and businessmen — take charge of various wards and play their role of karyakartas to the hilt. Ex-city Mayor Kanaji Thakore walks in around 1 pm.
In the media room full of reporters, BJP workers announce the victory of Vejalpur, Maninagar, Bodakdev, Paldi and Khadia to cheers. The party’s rout in block panchayats is met with a shirk, suggesting that the results were expected. Meanwhile, there is a buzz of CM Anandiben Patel holding a Vijay rally outside Khanpur office in the evening, along with senior party leader and in-charge of Gujarat BJP Dinesh Sharma, who has joined the campaign trail in Ahmedabad.