Campaigning for the first phase of elections on November 27 to 164 municipal councils and nagar panchayats has peaked with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and opposition leaders hitting the trail. While the opposition is highlighting the government’s demonetisation move which, according to them, has hit rural economy hard as well as caste tensions, Fadnavis is asking voters to support BJP to wipe out corruption in the local bodies, majority of which are held by the Congress and NCP. Apart from Fadnavis, Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde is also campaigning for the party.
Local issues like inadequate water supply, sanitation, rural infrastructure or need to strengthen the basic amenities are also being discussed at the public meetings. As many as 15,827 candidates are in fray for the 3,706 seats in 147 Municipal Councils and 18 Nagar Panchayats.
For Shirala Nagar Panchayat in Sangli district, not a single nomination was received. Hence, voting will be held in 3,706 seats for 164 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats. For the post of Municipal Council president in 147 places, there are 1,013 candidates. As many as 27 candidates are set to be declared elected unopposed.
Campaigning in Ambejogai (Beed district), Congress leader Amit Deshmukh urged voters to foil the attempts to polarise the society on caste and religious lines.
“The Lok Sabha and Assembly polls of 2014 were won on polarisation. In the local bodies elections too, similar tactic is being adopted. Unfortunately, our one time ally NCP is also part of this ‘unholy’ alliance,” he alleged.
Hitting out at the BJP while referring to the demonetisation move, Deshmukh said it is the responsibility of voters to keep those who have caused trouble to them, away from power at the local bodies.
While ruling partners in the state government, BJP and Shiv Sena, have struck a deal to contest the polls together, the Congress and NCP, which control majority of municipal bodies, do not have an alliance in all the 164 local bodies going to polls.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is not travelling for campaigning, but has left it to the local leaders. NCP has 1,300 seats while Congress 1,293. BJP has 437, Sena 454 and MNS 61. There are over 400 independents as well.