Dubbed as a “mini Assembly election”, the 227-member Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is scheduled to hold the civic polls on Tuesday in Mumbai, along with nine other civic bodies in Maharashtra. The voting will begin at 7.30 am and conclude at 5.30 pm. The poll counting for 23 centres in Mumbai will be done on February 23. The elections have turned into a battle of prestige for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who is heading the state’s first BJP-led government, and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
WATCH VIDEO | BMC Elections 2017: Polling Begins Across Maharashtra, MNS Chief Raj Thackeray Casts His Vote
Holding the status of the biggest municipal corporation in the country, BMC will witness competitive elections with 2,275 candidates in the fray for 227 seats. More than 7,297 polling centres and over 1.95 crore voters across the state are entitled to exercise their franchise to choose representatives for ten-city corporations.
Two parties- BJP and Shiv Sena- who have jointly ruled the BMC since 1997, are engaged in bitter acrimony this time. Parties like Congress, NCP and MNS are also contesting the BMC polls. Drinking water, roads and garbage are the key issues for the BMC polls this year.
Security has been beefed up by the Mumbai police across the city as part of arrangements for the smooth conduct of the elections. “Police are maintaining a strong vigil to avert any untoward incident during polls in city as there are 7,297 polling centres, which include 726 sensitive centres. Besides, 159 pockets of the city are declared as sensitive.
Police bandobast has also been done at vital installations the city,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe said on Monday. Video-recording of the poll process will be done at sensitive booths, he said. Police have enforced CrPC’s section 144 (prohibitory orders) in the vicinity of 100 metres of the polling centres, where there will be restrictions on non-voters.
The DCP said that plain-clothed police personnel from the special and crime branches will be deployed outside the polling stations. There will be separate queues for men and women to avoid any chaos during polling, he said, adding that strict police security will also be deployed for poll counting, to be done at 23 centres in the city on Thursday.
Checking of vehicles and regular combing operations are being carried out throughout the city with the help of flying squads of Mumbai police, BMC and the Election Commission, the DCP said.
On January 26, Uddhav Thackeray announced that the party will not go for an alliance with the BJP in the upcoming polls. Sena also ruled out the possibility of a pre-poll pact with BJP, alleging that the saffron has hired ‘gundas’ (goons) in the party as they can’t fight against the Shiv Sena ‘sainiks’. This year, while Shiv Sena will contest alone on all the 227 seats, the BJP will contest only 195 seats in the 227-member BMC polls. Shiv Sena has ruled BMC for 19 years.
Apart from the ten civic bodies elections, the second phase of polling for 11 Zilla Parishads (ZPs) and 118 panchayat samitis will also be conducted on Tuesday. Over 1.80 crore people can cast their votes in the ZP and panchayat samiti polls. State Election Commissioner J S Saharia said, “Collectively, 3.77 crore voters are eligible to decide the fate of 17,331 candidates in rural and urban areas, including Mumbai.”
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