Despite having a majority, the BJP suffered a setback in Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad municipal corporation as it lost the election to the post of mayor after a few of its corporators voted for the rival NCP candidate. As a result of the cross-voting, Digvijay Suryawanshi of the NCP defeated BJP’s mayoral candidate Dhiraj Suryawanshi to be the new civic chief of the city in western Maharashtra. Umesh Patil of the Congress was elected deputy mayor.
Of the total 78 corporators elected to the civic body in 2018, 41 are from the BJP, which secured majority with the support of two Independents. The Congress and the NCP are in the Opposition, with 20 and 15 seats respectively. A Congress corporator, who held the post of mayor previously, passed away recently, leaving the 77 members to elect his successor.
The NCP candidate polled 39 votes while the BJP’s mayoral face received 36. While the latter was undone by cross-voting, two more sitting corporators abstained, helping the NCP’s mayoral pick to pip his BJP rival to the post.
The defeat of the BJP candidate is also being seen as a personal embarrassment for state party chief Chandrakant Patil, who hails from the neighbouring Kolhapur district. The Sangli Lok Sabha seat as well as most of the Assembly seats in the district are currently represented by BJP members.
The NCP candidate’s win is being attributed to a strategy devised by state party chief Jayant Patil and Congress minister Vishwajeet Kadam, both of whom come from the Sangli district.
Once strongholds of the Congress and the NCP, Sangli swayed to saffron as the BJP won the majority of seats in Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad municipal corporation in 2018. The saffron party had since continued its winning momentum in the district, keeping hold of the Lok Sabha seat in the last two elections and emerging victorious in several Assembly constituencies in the last polls.