The truth about BJP losing ‘all 36 seats’ in Gujarat Panchayat elections

The latest rumour on social media suggests that in some Panchayat elections held recently in Gujarat, BJP lost “all 36 seats”, thus ended up embarrassing itself. This assumes significance because if true, it comes less than a year before the assembly elections due near the end of this year. Some have already credited this “defeat” to demonetisation, some to Kejriwal’s rallies, and some to Modi’s magical hold over Gujarat fading. So did BJP really suffer this humiliating defeat?

This “news” came from a tweet from AAP National Executive Member, Preeti Menon, who was previously found defending the man who faked a “gau rakshak” attack on himself, because he “hated hindus”:

According to news reports available, around 9000 panchayats did go to elections recently in Gujarat. A report dated 29th December 2016, claimed that results for 2,891 out of 8,624 gram panchayats had come out by 29th, and as of that date,  both BJP and opposition Congress claimed their respective victories. A more recent report though, dated January 2nd, reported that to buttress its claim that over 80 per cent candidates devoted to BJP won the elections BJP  felicitated “more than 8,000 newly elected sarpanches”, reportedly sporting BJP sashes, in Gandhinagar on Sunday.

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Having said the above, it is important to note that Gujarat Gram Panchayat polls are not fought on party symbols as candidates need to fight on their personal capacity and each voter is required to cast two votes, one to elect sarpanch and another for electing panchayat member for his ward. However, an informal backing from a political party is not abnormal.

Coming back to Menon’s tweet, it’s very amusing since there is almost no basis for her quoting this mystery figure of just 36 seats and claiming them to be “all” the seats. Even the claim of BJP losing “all seats”, is highly questionable given the above.

But Menon may not even be referring to above mentioned polls, because a similar tweet, with similar figures, was also shared by Congress National Spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi in November itself:

A tweet from November can certainly not refer to any elections which took place in December 2016. Luckily, this tweet gives more information as it clarifies that they were not the “panchayat” elections, as claimed by Menon, but the Gujarat Unjha Nagarpalika Elections.

But surprise surprise, although the above screenshot exists, as of today, the tweet of so-called “activist” Shabnam Hashmi has been deleted:

So was her claim that BJP lost all the 36 seats to Congress true?

No No No. Firstly, these polls took place in December 2015, more than a year ago. Secondly, BJP officially did not field any candidate in Unjha Municipality elections while Congress had fielded 5 candidates. Both parties though maintained they had put up “independents”. Eventually  35 of the total 36 elected members in the civic body were Independents, while Congress managed to win one seat. Again, it is numerically impossible for Congress to win all 36 seats as claimed by Hashmi, when they officially fielded only 5 candidates.

To recap:

AAP member Menon’s tweet was false on the following counts:

1. No “Gujarat Panchayat elections” took place for 36 seats

2. BJP did not lose “all 36 seats” of such non-existent Gujarat Panchayat elections

3. The media is not reporting it now because no such elections ever took place, and not because they have “been warned not to let this news spread”

The remotest connection to “36” seats in Gujarat, are the Gujarat Unjha Municipality elections which took place in December 2015.

Shabnam Hashmi’s now deleted tweet shared by Congress spokesperson Chaturvedi is again false since:

1. BJP officially did not field any candidate

2. Only 1 Congress candidate won as against the “36” originally claimed by Hashmi

3. The remaining 35 were all independents.

All in all, this is a deceitful web spun on half-truths and whole lies with not as much as a grain of truth in them. As far the most recent municipality elections which took place in Gujarat on 29 November 2016, during the peak pain period of demonetisation, BJP won 107 seats out of the 123 municipal and district panchayat seats while Congress could win only 16 seats. Not only did BJP retain control over municipalities, it snatched Gondal taluka panchayat from the Congress winning 18 out of 22 seats.

Words of advice to AAP and Congress propagandists working in tandem: work harder.

(With inputs from @dhaval241086)

co-founder, OpIndia.com

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