THE BJP led by Union minister Nitin Gadkari notched up a two-third majority in the 151-member Nagpur Municipal Corporation elections by winning a massive 108 seats. In doing so, the party vastly exceeded its own expectation of a conservative 80 seats triggered by a low voting percentage of 53. With this, the BJP has held on to power in the second capital of the state for the third consecutive term. Incidentally, the BJP had only 62 seats in the 145-member previous House and was leading a combination of parties to rule the NMC. The Congress came a cropper with just 29 seats, down from its previous tally of 41.
Shockingly for the party, its former Mayor and city unit chief Vikas Thakre lost to BJP’s Dilip Diwe by a huge margin of 2,200 votes. Diwe is the brother of Sudhir Diwe, managing director of the Gadkari-pioneered Purti group of companies.
There was virtually no place left for other players like the Shiv Sena and the NCP, which could win only two and one seat respectively.
They had six seats each last time. Another highlight of the Nagpur polls was the defeat of all BJP rebels, including those with RSS background like Shripad Risaldar, Vishakha Joshi and Prasanna Paturkar. The BSP largely managed to salvage its earlier position of 12 seats by winning 10 this time.
The BJP had gone to voters with a non-communal developmental agenda. While CM Devendra Fadnavis had concentrated mainly in Mumbai, Gadkari camped in the city unleashing a marathon series of public meetings and personally leading the whole campaign. The Congress, however, was a divided house with Vikas Thakre and his political guru former MP Vilas Muttemwar being openly challenged by party rivals Satish Chaturvedi and Nitin Raut.
Talking to mediapersons, Gadkari described the BJP’s victory as “unprecedented and historic”. “I attribute the victory to the developmental programmes implemented by both the Centre and the state governments as well as the municipal corporation,” Gadkari said.
Asked how he looks at the unexpected tally of 108, Gadkari said, “I had expected it to be in the range of 80-85. A lot of people were unhappy by rejection in the ticket-distribution exercise. That was a point of worry. But eventually, all the partymen worked with a united heart to give their everything resulting in such an impressive tally.”