Maharashtra self-government polls: BJP stuns opposition with impressive show

Ruling party races ahead of rivals Congress, NCP, and ally Shiv Sena by winning 890 seats, which is more than three times its strength in 2011

CM Devendra Fadnavis
CM Devendra Fadnavis

Amidst fear that demonetisation and Maratha agitation among other issues would go against it, the BJP stunned the opposition yesterday by racing ahead in Maharashtra’s local self-government elections.

Saffron all the way
The BJP not only pushed itself ahead in the presidents’ tally (direct elections), but it also consolidated its position in terms of winners in ward elections. Till the time of going to press, the BJP had won 890 seats, which is three times its strength in 2011.

Of 154 municipal councils and panchayats that went to polls last week, the BJP excelled beyond expectations in direct elections of council presidents. By evening, it had already won 52 seats of presidents (of 147 direct polls), way head of rivals as well as ally — Shiv Sena (23), Congress (19) and NCP (16).

The BJP’s success is noteworthy because it had less than five members in 127 councils, and not a single one in 86 councils. The elections happened after the Prime Minister’s decision to ban R500 and R1,000 notes, which had come under criticism, raising the opposition’s hopes that it would reflect negatively for the BJP in the ballot boxes.

The others
The NCP took a beating with its strength getting reduced by 50 per cent — from 916 seats in 2011 to just 438 by evening yesterday. The Congress got 517 seats as against its 771 in 2011. The Sena, with sitting 264 members, took its tally to 388. It too expected some more seats. Others — local fronts, independents, etc — were at 271.

In terms of absolute majority, the BJP (22) was in close contest with the Congress (21). The NCP was lagging behind at 18 and the Sena managed 15. The local fronts grabbed power in 12 places, while there was a hung house in 26
councils.

CM’s show
There is no precedent of a CM having campaigned so aggressively in the local self-government polls, but Fadnavis set out to change this notion by addressing 40 public meetings in 10 days and came out a winner.

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