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The Maharashtra local bodies’ elections for 164 municipal councils and nagar panchayats saw 70 per cent polling across 25 districts on Sunday. The fiercely contested elections dominated by the demonestisation issue were marred by stray incidents of group clashes in Parbhani, Osmanabad, Satara and Sangli.
Almost 58.49 lakh people voted for 15,826 candidates for 147 municipal councils and 17 nagar panchayats in 25 districts. The counting will take place Monday.
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In the last elections, the presence of the BJP in the 164 local bodies where polling took place was negligible. It was clearly dominated by the Congress and NCP. In 127 councils out of 147, the BJP had less than five members. Its presence was only in three-four councils. Monday’s counting will show whether the Congress-NCP is able to retain their absolute hold or the BJP makes inroads in their bastion.
Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “I am sure the Congress will not only retain but improve its tally in the local bodies in our turf.”
A senior BJP leader said, “It is a challenge as we have to break through the Congress-NCP’s forte. In the local bodies, we had to start from almost zero.”
Top Congress, NCP, BJP and Sena leaders campaigned extensively for the polls.
Late-evening reports from the election commission stated that overall, there was no major untoward incident. A scuffle between two groups left three persons injured during polling for the Gangakhed municipal council in Parbhani district.
The police registered an offence under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC against 27 people after two policemen were injured in stone-pelting near a police station during polling for the Murum municipal council in Osmanabad district. Sangli district has given a bandh call following clashes between Congress and BJP workers at Tasgaon.
According to an election commission official, voters of Raghuchiwadi village in Osmanabad district boycotted the elections. Their protest was against lack of basic amenities in their village.
At Karad municipal council in Satara district, Maharashtra State Cooperative Council chairman Shekhar Charegaonkar allegedly drove his car on the polling premises, inviting objection from a woman constable on duty. Charegaonkar threatened he would suspend the constable. Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is trying to guard his hometurf in Karad, demanded action against Charegaonkar.
In Hinganghat district, polling officials seized Rs 3.5 lakh cash from the vehicle of a NCP candidate. A dramatic moment saw an independent candidate in Chandrapur district try to win voters by climbing a high-power cable tower.