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Congress halts BJP juggernaut in Nanded civic polls

Friday, October 13, 2017
By Prashant Hamine

Somaiya says BJP Mayor in BMC soon, Rane tells BJP to introspect

Congress led by its Nanded Lok Sabha MP and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President Ashok Chavan, managed to halt the Bharatiya Janata Partys (BJP) juggernaut in civic polls by retaining its hold on the Nanded Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC). As per official sources in the State Election Commission of Maharashtra (SECM), Congress has won 69 seats out of the 81 member NWMC, a clear two-thirds majority. The poll swing in favor of the Congress was so huge that its ally in the opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Musalmeen (MIM) failed to open their account. The Shiv Sena too saw its 2012 tally of 14 seats nosedive to just 1 seat in the results declared yesterday.

However, the victory of BJPs Jagruti Pratik Patil who defeated her nearest Sena rival Meenakshi Patil in bye-election to ward number 116 (Bhandup) in Brihannmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has prompted the BJP Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai-North East Dr Kirit Somaiya, remarked that the BJP will soon inch ahead of the Sena in numerical tally in the BMC and will soon have a BJP Mayor in BMC.

An upbeat Somaiya sarcastically remarked, “Will the arrogance of Sena President Uddhav Thackeray mellow down now at least.” He argued that the current numerical tally of 84 seats of Sena and 83 of BJP in the BMC will soon change and reverse in favor of the BJP. “We shall soon have our Mayor in BMC. Last time we let them off the hook. Now, we shall inch ahead of them soon,” added Somaiya. However, as per the actual current tally in the BMC, the Sena has 84 corporators and BJP 82. One seat held by BJP has fallen vacant due to the recent demise of its sitting senior corporator Shailaja Girkar from Kandivali.

Although the BJP managed to increase its tally of two in 2012 NWMC polls to six seats in yesterdays NWMC elections, party insiders disclosed that the Nanded civic polls were below expectations. According to a senior BJP office bearer who while speaking to The Afternoon D&C on conditions of anonymity argued that the BJP was never aiming to wrest power from the Congress in the Nanded civic body. But, sources in the BJP argued that the party leaderships move to entrust all the reigns of its campaign to rebel Sena MLA from Loha Prataprao Patil-Chikhlikar did them in.

Sources further stated that the party leaderships move to import leaders from other parties cost the party dearly as it alienated the partys dedicated cadres who stayed away from actively campaigning for the party. However, Minister for Labour Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar who was also incharge of the partys poll machinery in Nanded claimed that the BJPs vote share rose from three per cent in 2012 to 19 percent this time around. Known for his outspoken nature, BJPs new ally and Maharashtra Swabhimani Party (MSP) leader Narayan Rane advised the BJP leadership to do some introspection on why it fared so badly despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis holding so many election rallies in Nanded-Waghala civic polls. He, however, dismissed the argument that the Nanded civic poll results will have any impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

As per official sources in the SECM the partywise tally in the 81 member NWMC at the time of going to the press was as follows: BJP 6, Congress 69, Sena 1 and Independents 1. Counting for four seats in ward number 2 has been delayed as the SECM had used Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) machines along with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). The partywise tally in the 2012 elections was as follows: BJP 2, NCP 10, Congress 41, Sena 14, MIM 11 and Others 3.

Apart from the NWMC polls, the BJP and its allies Tararani Aghadi Paksha (Kolhapur) and Republican Party of India (Athawale) faction mopped up four seats in Mumbai, Nagpur, Kolhapur and Pune municipal corporations. In the bye-election in Nagpur municipal corporation, BJPs Sandip Gavai won from ward number 35-A polling 5,711 votes. In Kolhapur municipal corporation, BJP-Tararani Aghadi Paksha candidate Ratnesh Shirolkar won from ward number 11, polling 1,399 votes. In Pune municipal corporation bye-election, BJP-RPI-A alliance candidate Himali Navnath Kamble won from ward number 21-A, polling 7,899 votes.

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