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Civic polls in Maharashtra: Sena and Congress give BJP a jolt

Of the 968 seats in 60 civic bodies, the BJP bagged the highest 209 seats. The Congress, whom nobody had given a chance to came second notching up 199 seats.

Written by MANOJ MORE |
Updated: November 3, 2015 3:59:35 pm

Just when the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra was celebrating its first year in office — although subdued due to frequent skirmishes between the key partners — it finds itself pushed onto the back foot with the civic polls springing a surprise. The BJP held its ground, the Congress which was down in the dumps, is fighting its way back into the political limelight. The NCP, which shares a love-hate relationship with the Congress in Maharashtra, did not do too badly either.

The results of the civic body polls declared on Monday speak for themselves. Of the 968 seats in 60 civic bodies, the BJP bagged the highest 209 seats. The Congress, whom nobody had given a chance to came second notching up 199 seats. NCP came third with 170 seats and the Shiv Sena secured 118 seats. Of the 60 civic bodies, the Congress-NCP won 23 while the BJP-Sena bagged 22 civic bodies. All the parties contested independently and are now inching closer to their “natural alliances” to claim the seat of power.

It was the bitterly fought Kalyan-Dombivali municipal corporation polls that became the cynosure of all eyes. The BJP and the Shiv Sena went all-out to outdo each other with both Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in a no holds-barred campaign. Nobody emerged the winner in the verbal duel but in the battle of the ballots, the Sena clearly outsmarted the BJP by pocketing 52 wards while the BJP had to remain satisfied with 42 wards – by no means a small achievement considering the fact that it had won only 9 wards in the 2009 municipal corporation polls.

Sena leaders said they had focussed all their energies on the prestigious Kalyan-Dombivali election and finally proved a point. “The Sainiks felt their leadership was being slighted constantly by the BJP and therefore, they came out in droves to flatten some ballooning egos…,” said a Sena leader.

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For the Congress, it is a revival of sorts of the grand old party after its worst humiliation — some called it historical — in the assembly polls last October when it could manage only 42 seats out of the 288. The Congress has done well in Kolhapur where it emerged as the largest party bagging 27 wards. With NCP bagging 15 wards, the two are already gearing up to stake claim. They need 40 wards for a majority. Congress leaders said they too were surprised by the party’s good showing. “It seems that our party gained because of the constant open sparring between BJP and the Sena…The Congress now has a chance to put itself on the revival path,” said a senior party leader.

Although the BJP has done alright, the creditable performance of its now bitter-foe in the government, the Shiv Sena, is sure to send alarm bells ringing in the BJP.

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