Local bodies' poll: Sway of independents in Unjha municipality

Unjha, known for its spices, had been a BJP stronghold for the last two decades.

Mehsana:  Thirty-five independent candidates on Wednesday emerged victorious out of the total 36 seats in Unjha municipality in this Patidar community dominated town of Gujarat which saw no one contesting on a BJP ticket.

Unjha, known for its spices, had been a BJP stronghold for the last two decades.

As per final poll results declared by State Election Commission (SEC), out of total 36 seats in 9 wards in Unjha town of Mehsana, 35 have been captured by Independent candidates while one went to Congress, as BJP did not find a single candidate willing to contest on party ticket in Unjha.

Unjha, where BJP was in power, is a Patel dominated town, which saw massive anti-BJP and anti-government protests during the Patel quota agitation particularly after the arrest of Patel quota leader Hardik Patel in October.

For last two months, Patel leaders have also started a drive to 'uproot' BJP in this election and urged the community "not to forgot the atrocities" committed on them by the government.

As a result, several BJP leaders including Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel faced protest from large number of Patel community members during their campaign in Mehsana ahead of polls.

Also, as a fallout to such anti-BJP sentiment as well as to avoid the wrath of dominant Patel vote-bank during election, no one came ahead to seek ticket from BJP in Unjha. Instead, these candidates, many of whom belonged to BJP, played safe and decided to contest as Independents.

Out of total 85 candidates who contested for Unjha municipality, none contested from BJP ticket. Five were from Congress while 80 contested as Independents.

As 35 of them have won today, it will be interesting to see how they will form the municipal body.

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