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Legislative council elections: BJP herds off Nagpur corporators to other states; party claims ‘strategy’, Opposition calls it panic

Election to two local bodies' seats -- Buldana-Akola and Nagpur – will take place on December 10 and the BJP is hoping to rule the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) for the fourth consecutive term.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur |
Updated: November 30, 2021 8:31:52 am
Civic pollsPolitical observers say that while it is a common practice for Opposition parties to take its Parliamentarians, MLAs and corporators to “secure destinations” to prevent any poaching, it is rare for a ruling party with such an overwhelming majority to send away its representatives.

With Legislative Council elections to two seats less than two weeks away, Nagpur BJP has sent off most of its corporators along with councillors from municipal councils in the district as well as Zila Parishad members to BJP-ruled states, in an apparent attempt to prevent possible splitting of votes.

Overall, 350 persons affiliated with the BJP, including family members of some of the representatives, have gone outside Maharashtra, say party sources.

Election to Legislative Council seats of Buldana-Akola and Nagpur will take place on December 10.

“Many of the corporators have been sent to Goa while some others have chosen to go to Nainital. Women corporators have preferred to visit Vaishno Devi,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Chandar Goswami.

The corporators left the city in several groups through the day on Monday. “Some have preferred to stay back as they have some work to be completed,” Goswami added.

Political observers say that while it is a common practice for Opposition parties to take its Parliamentarians, MLAs and corporators to “secure destinations” to prevent any poaching, it is rare for a ruling party with such an overwhelming majority to send away its representatives.

In the December 10 election, BJP’s former Kamptee MLA and ex-minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule is pitted against Ravindra ‘Chotu’ Bhoyar, a long-time RSS swayamsevak, who recently defected to the Congress while accusing the BJP of “ill-treatment”.

The BJP, currently in its third consecutive term as the ruling party in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), has a strength of 107 out of 155 seats in the House. Though the party lost the 70-member Nagpur Zila Parishad to Congress last year, it, along with its alliance partners, still commands about 350 out of total 559 votes to be cast in the December election. It is also aiming to snatch about 50 votes from the Opposition, sources said. Rest of the 334 votes come from various Municipal Councils in the district.

Asked why the party was feeling insecure despite recently claiming to be “confident” of winning over 400 votes, city BJP president and former mayor Pravin Datke said, “An atmosphere of confusion has been sought to be created by the Opposition by claiming that some of our corporators have been in touch with them. So, we have decided to send them away.”

Asked if herding off corporators to distant locations displays panic, Datke said, “There is no panic. We are sure to fetch over 400 votes. This exercise is just a part of our strategy. I think only we have the right to decide what our strategy should be. No one else can tell us what we should, or shouldn’t, do.”

Congress MLA and city party chief Vikas Thakre said, “On record, they are at least 80 votes ahead of us at present and yet they have done this. It shows that they are not sure about winning the election.”

Asked if the Congress has any chance of winning, Thakre said, “We can’t say for sure if we would win but the panic in their camp shows that our chances of closing the gap are bright.”

Notably, the ruling dispensation in the state and the BJP have worked out a compromise in four out of total six seats for unopposed election, leaving only Buldana-Akola and Nagpur as the two seats where actual polling will decide the winner on December 10.

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