Ahmedabad: The second of the two-phase elections to local bodies in Gujarat passed off peacefully on Sunday with an estimated 55-57 percent of the total 2.6 crore voters casting their ballot, officials said.
According to State Election Commissioner Varesh Sinha, a staggering 20,000 candidates were in the fray for as many as 317 local bodies -- 31 district panchayats, 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats and 56 nagar palikas (municipalities) -- in the largely rural and semi-urban regions of the state.
The votes polled for both the phases, including those in six city municipal corporation areas on November 22, will be counted on December 2.
The results are being considered a litmus test for the Anandiben Patel government since this is the first full-scale polls after the 13-year-old rule of Narendra Modi in the state.
Though the ruling BJP holds sway over all local bodies in the state, it is fighting an uphill task this time given the four-month-long agitation by activists from the Patidar (Patel) community demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
Not taking any chances under the leadership of Anandiben Patel, BJP leaders asked party workers to fish out old masks of Modi during the campaign, to tackle the situation created by 22-year-old Hardik Patel, spearheading the community agitation.
In fact, many housing societies in the state had put up "no entry" banners for the BJP candidates.
Since the Patels have been an age-old supporters of the BJP, any breach here could cause the BJP an irreparable political harm.
On the other hand, for the Congress, every small win here will be a huge reason to celebrate.
The current tally of seats speaks volumes.
The BJP lords over 191 out of 230 talukas, 47 out of 56 municipalities and a mind-boggling 30 out 31 district panchayats -- barring Tapi in south Gujarat.