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10-14-2010, 04:55 AM
India: Huge win for BJP in Gujarat civic polls due to Muslim support

AHMEDABAD, (PTI): Ruling BJP today swept the polls to six municipal corporations in Gujarat retaining power with two-thirds majority in all but one of them, in a big victory for Chief Minister Narendra Modi who put all his might behind the civic election campaign.

Besides Ahmedabad, the BJP won the civic polls in Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot and Bhavnagar with a two-thirds majority. The party, which decimated the Congress, got a simple majority in Jamnagar.

Savouring the BJP's huge victory in civic polls in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi said this would not have been possible without Muslims voting for the saffron party in good numbers.

"More than 30 per cent of Muslims have voted for us. That is the reason we have been able to get over 80 per cent of votes," Modi said addressing a victory rally after the party swept the elections to six municipal corporations across the state.

"This(electoral support from Muslims) will dispel all the myths regarding Muslims of Gujarat," he added.

Modi, who completed nine years in office last week becoming the longest serving chief minister of Gujarat, said the BJP has managed to win the hearts of Muslims.

However, the Muslim candidates fielded by the BJP were unlucky at the hustings. All the 11 Muslim nominees of the party had lost, according to BJP sources.

"We will work for people for the next five years, will work for everyone's development, irrespective of the places where we have won and the places where we lost," said Modi.

He said BJP bagged 80 per cent of the votes in almost all the places with the remaining being accounted for all the other parties and Independents put together.

The poll victories came just a few weeks after the BJP won Kachlal in Anand district in a by-election, bagging the assembly constituency — a Congress bastion — for the first time in the history of the state.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani congratulated Modi for the spectacular showing for the party and noted that the Congress has been wiped out.

On-line voting was introduced for the first time in the civic polls.

Over 2,100 candidates were in fray for more than 558 seats for elections in six municipal corporations in Gujarat. Ruling BJP as well as Opposition Congress had campaigned extensively and had also roped in national leaders for the polls.

The BJP had won all the six municipal corporations in the last elections held in 2005

It had made the arrest of Amit Shah, close aide of Modi, by CBI in Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, as one of the main issues, as all its national leaders alleged that the arrest amounted to misuse of CBI by the Congress and asked people to give its mandate through the ballot papers.

During the campaign, Modi also took a swipe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the tardy pace of preparations for the ongoing Commonwealth games in Delhi.

Congress on the other hand had focussed more on local issues saying that the corporation polls were about civic amenities and highlighted assistance given to the state under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission for development of infrastructure in cities.