FORMER chief minister Ashok Chavan’s prestige is at stake on his home turf of Nanded, where results of the local municipal election will be declared Thursday. Voting for the Nanded Waghala municipality, which is under Chavan’s control, saw 60 per cent turnout Wednesday. While Chavan is confident of the Congress retaining the municipality, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has left no stone unturned to script a famous upset.
The BJP ran a star-studded campaign, with senior Maharashtra ministers including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis coming out to campaign for the poll. Leaving nothing to chance, Chavan, who is also the Maharashtra Congress chief, had parked himself in Nanded for the last three weeks. In the build-up to the polls, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too had visited Nanded.
Of the 81 seats, the Congress had won 41 seats the last time. Shiv Sena with 12 seats was a distant second, followed by the All India Majlis-e-Muslimeen (11 seats). The BJP, on the other hand, had won just two seats. While the BJP looks certain for a much improved performance this time around, it would be interesting to see if it can dent Chavan’s bastion.
The Nanded election also saw the use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines for the first time in the state. The machines were installed at 31 polling centres in one ward on a pilot basis. While the Maharashtra Election Commission had planned to use these machines across 37 polling centres in all, officials said the machines had to be withdrawn after technical glitches at a couple of polling centres, while these could not be installed at four others.