The BJP’s resounding victory in the civic polls in Maharashtra has further strengthened Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who led his party’s campaign from the front after deciding to go alone without tying up with the Shiv Sena, according to political observers. Fadnavis, 46, who heads the first BJP-led government in the politically crucial state, single-handedly led the party’s campaign criss-crossing the length and breadth of Maharashtra, aggressively projecting “transparency and development” as the central slogan. Significantly, the BJP’s urban sweep came close on the heels of its sterling performance in municipal council elections in November-January, rubbishing the predictions that the party would do badly in the backdrop of the note ban.
While the BJP campaign was well-crafted, Congress campaign was low-key and not well -organised. Congress leaders admitted that the party failed to match the high-octane campaign mounted by the saffron parties by bringing to the fore the real civic issues. “The Sena and BJP adopted the Kalyan-Dombivali municipal Corporation (KDMC) formula where the two parties fought a bitter campaign against each other despite being in power together in the state and eventually sealed a post poll alliance,” they said, requesting anonymity.
BJP also vigorously wooed the non-Marathi voters, who constitute about 46 per cent of the total electorate of the sprawling city which has people from across the country as residents, observers said.
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Besides this, the BJP also made inroads into the traditional Congress bastions like the Latur Zilla Parishad and Solapur municipal
corporation, the home turf of late Vilasrao Deshmukh and party veteran Sushil Kumar Shinde.Until 2014, the BJP presence in the city was limited. It used to contest about 65 seats in alliance with the Sena. This time round, according to observers, it began the ground work for the polls more than a year back.
The party entrusted responsibilities to all the 15 legislators and three MPs to strengthen the organisation at the grassroot.
The BJP emerged as the largest party in eight of the 10 municipal corporations while finishing a close second to bellicose ally Shiv Sena in Mumbai. Rattling the Sena citadel, BJP won 82 seats in BMC, just two less than the estranged saffron ally, but both ended up
well short of the magic figure of 114 needed to control the civic body. Political observers said non-Maharashtrians, who formed
the core base of the Congress in Mumbai for long, have switched sides to the BJP since 2014.