The Nanded Municipal Corporation elections have assumed greater significance as it may determine the political roadmap of MPCC president Ashok Chavan. The polling will take place on October 11.
Highly placed sources in the MPCC said the party would expect the AICC leadership to focus on “organisational changes both at the centre and in the states including Maharashtra” in the next couple of months.
“The several factors that would be considered include the electoral outcome in Nanded, which happens to Ashok Chavan’s home turf,” said a Congress leader. Chavan, along with his dedicated team of workers, has parked himself in Nanded for the last three months leaving no stone unturned to retain the lead for the party.
Taking lessons from the last elections, the Congress has worked hard to negate the MIM impact in Nanded corporation polls as it fears it would impact the party’s vote bank.
The multi-cornered elections in the 81-seat Nanded civic body would be a litmus test for the BJP too, with the party winning only two seats and finishing fifth in the 2012 elections. The Congress had won, bagging 41 seats in 2012, followed by Shiv Sena (14), MIM (11) and NCP (10).
The rest of the five seats went to BJP (2), Others (2) and an Independent.
Throughout the campaign this time around, Chavan has highlighted the “policy failures” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government, criticising inflation, demonetisation and GST. The former chief minister also spoke on the role the Chavan family has played in the district for the last several decades.
Chavan currently represents Nanded Lok Sabha seat and his wife Ameeta represents Bhokhar constituency in the Legislative Assembly.
“Chavan got the coveted post of MPCC president in April 2016 as he won his Nanded Lok Sabha seat despite the Modi wave across the state. The Hingoli Lok Sabha seat won by Rajiv Satav was also because of Chavan. The AICC leadership overlooked the alleged Adarsh scam charges against him while awarding him the post. However, a section within the Congress has now started asking questions about his leadership. Ahead of the major overhaul, Nanded corporation polls would be significant. The fight is between the Congress and the BJP,” said an MPCC leader who did not wish to be named.
Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil Nilengekar, who is leading the BJP campaign in Nanded, said, “Our development agenda has helped to get overwhelming response from the youths. There is disenchantment with the Congress rule for last several decades, which would work to our advantage.”
The campaigning started on a dramatic note with the BJP weaning away 13 sitting corporators from Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP to consolidate its base.
Chavan called these defectors “dal badlu” (party hoppers) and said this would not have any impact on the results.