In the period thereafter, the Congress has suffered a humiliating defeat in the prestigious Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections. The BJP annexed the body with an over two-thirds majority. The municipality, taluka and district panchayat elections which followed have further corroded the Congress base in the state. Of the 23 district panchayats which went to the polls, the BJP bagged 17 and the Congress had to rest content with a mere six. The Congress controlled 22 of the 25 district panchayats before the polls. The taluka panchayat and town municipality results have been no better. Additionally, the tribal belt has again fallen to the BJP. Modi, of course, led from the front, aware that his chief ministership was on the line, what with the rebels within his party and the VHP making common cause against him. It was Modi against the rest—both within and outside.
In contrast, the headless Congress never got off the starting block. Its state leaders were too busy looking after their own fiefs while the central leaders who jetted in looked more like tourists making a beeline for the nearest farmhouse. In fact, as things stand, another drubbing awaits the Congress in the elections to the five key municipal corporations of Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar slated for mid-December. Buoyed by the unexpected popular support, Modi may now even decide to go in for assembly elections earlier than the 2007 schedule. The grapevine is abuzz that planning for it has already begun.