The Congress finished way ahead of the BJP in the first phase of municipal elections in Rajasthan -- the party won 961 wards, the BJP 737 wards, the Election Commission said. Going by the trends, the Congress is likely to form councils in 23 civic bodies, the BJP in six. Independents are likely to play a crucial role in the formation of municipal boards -- they are leading in 368 wards.
Elections were held in 49 of the state's 196 civic bodies in the first phase. Of these, three are municipal corporations, 19 are municipal councils and 27 are municipalities.
Among other places, the Congress is leading in Baran, Barmer, Chittorgarh, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar and Sirohi. The BJP is leading in Ajmer, Alwar, Jalore and Udaipur.
The Congress had wrested power from the BJP in last year's assembly elections and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot saw the trends as a voters' approval of his government.
A Hindi tweet from the Chief Minister roughly read: "The results of municipal elections today are satisfactory. After the Zilla Parishad by-election, Panchayati Raj by-election and assembly bypolls in Mandawa and Khivansar, the people of Rajasthan have again expressed support towards our welfare schemes and development work carried out by our government. This support has strengthened our commitment towards accountability, transparency and good governance. I am thankful to all the voters and congratulate the winning candidates and party workers,"
Polling to elect nearly 2,100 ward councillors was held on Saturday, in which nearly 72 per cent voters exercised their franchise.