AMID SHIV Sena, Congress and NCP reaching a consensus on government formation in Maharashtra, BJP on Friday suffered another electoral setback, losing mayoral polls in Latur and Ulhasnagar municipal corporations, where it had won a majority of the seats.
There are also indications that the party’s grip over several other urban local bodies across the state will be weakened if the three parties join hands. Sources said the BJP would slip into the minority in 20 zilla parishads (ZP), most of which were controlled by it in alliance with Sena.
BJP suffered a major embarassment on Friday when two of its corporators backed Congress’ mayoral candidate in the Latur municipality, causing a major upset. With the backing of the two BJP defectors, Congress’ Vikrant Gojamgunde was elected the mayor in Latur. With 36 seats, while BJP was in majority in the 70-member municipality, Congress had 33 seats. The BJP’s tally in the House had come down by one earlier following the death of a corporator.
With the two BJP corporators voting for it, the Congress won 35 votes in all with a corporator owing allegiance to the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi also backing the party. One Congress corporator was absent. The BJP, meanwhile, could only secure 33 votes.
The defeat is being seen as a major setback for former BJP minister Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar. Following the upset win, Congress MLA Amit Deshmukh, who is in the running for a ministerial berth in the new formation, said that the “evolving political situation in the state may have played a role in the victory”. Ironically, a BJP rebel, Chandrakant Birajdar, was elected to the deputy mayor’s post.
In Ulhasnagar municipality, Sena got the backing of Congress, NCP and local outfit Team Omi Kalani (TOK). While Omi Kalani’s wife Pancham was BJP’s mayor in the municipality in the last term, she had campaigned for her mother-in-law Jyoti Kalani — who was nominated by the NCP — from Ulhasnagar in the October 21 Assembly polls.
If Congress, NCP and Sena come together, sources said that the power equations in 20 zilla parishads would change and BJP would slip into a minority. These zilla parishads are Raigad, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Jalgaon, Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur, Kolhapurm, Aurangabad, Beed, Nanded, Parbhani, Osmanabad, Jalna, Hingoli, Amravati, Yavatmal, Buldhana, and Gadchiroli.
Meanwhile, amid Congress, NCP and Sena reaching a concensus on Sena president Uddhav Thackeray becoming the new CM, Raj Thackeray-led MNS joined hands with BJP to ensure the latter retains mayor’s post in Nashik.
In Pune Municipal Corporation, political alliances mirrored those in the state, as Sena corporators voted for NCP candidate in the mayoral election on Friday, hours before the Sena, Congress and NCP reached a consensus to form the state government.
But the total vote tally of the three parties was still not enough to beat the BJP candidate, Murlidhar Mohol, who was elected as the next Pune mayor. Mohol recieved 97 votes while his rival, NCP’s Prakash Kadam, got 59 votes.
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