In a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP Thursday made giant strides in the Shiv Sena citadel of Mumbai, winning 82 of 227 seats in the fiercely contested Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls, just three short of the Sena tally. With both parties well short of the magic figure of 114 needed to control the country’s richest civic body, an alliance appeared inevitable. Across Maharashtra, the BJP was making impressive and decisive gains in the civic polls. The Congress and the NCP were headed for a rout, losing strongholds like Pune. While the Shiv Sena slightly improved its showing in Mumbai and Thane, the BJP is set to retain Nagpur, Akola and wrest Pune and Ulhasnagar from NCP and Nashik from the MNS.
The BJP is likely to come to power in at least six civic bodies — Pune, Nashik, Ulhasnagar, Akola, Nagpur and Amravati — out of the 10 corporations for which the elections were held on Tuesday.
Apart from Mumbai, the city corporations which went to polls were Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur.
In Pune, the BJP is leading on 74 out of the total 152 seats, in Ulhasnagar on 32 (78 total seats), Nashik-32 (122), Nagpur-72 (145), Amaravati-21 (87) and Akola-31 (73). In the 131-member Thane civic body, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena has so far won 43 seats, BJP-17, NCP-22, Congress and AIMIM 2 each, and Independent-1.
In Pune’s neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, the BJP has dented the NCP by leading on 26 seats and won on 22 seats, whereas NCP is leading only on 14 seats. The BJP appears to have expanded its base in Pimpri Chinchwad, despite fierce competition from the NCP.
The results of 10 municipal corporations in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, have seen the Congress plummeting to a new low with the lowest ever tally in the BMC and losing Solapur and Amravati to the BJP.
In Mumbai, the first sign of a possible rapprochement between the BJP and Sena came almost immediately after the poll outcome. Maharashtra’s senior BJP minister Chandrakant Patil said, “The BJP and the Shiv Sena should come together.”
The Shiv Sena took comfort from the fact that it had expanded its footprint in Maharashtrian-dominated belts and increased its overall tally. But the advantage was clearly with the BJP. Chief Minister Fadnavis had made ‘transparency’ in civic governance as the main poll plank. The issue appeared to have found resonance with a large section of the electorate.
Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar’s concerted campaign to expand the BJP’s outreach among Marathi-speaking voters also appeared to have reaped dividends. While the Shiv Sena retained its clout among the Marathi-speaking population, the outcome clearly suggested that the BJP had made deeper inroads into this voter segment.
Delighted, Fadnavis said, “Mumbaikars have voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s transparency agenda. This is our victory. We sought votes on transparency and people came out in support.”
“The verdict is a telling comment that people across Maharashtra have given huge support to the policies of Modiji. Our entire campaign was for development which people both in urban and rural Maharashtra have supported,” he said.
Sandeep Ashar, Vishwas Waghmode & Shubhangi Khapre