THE BJP put up an impressive show in Muslim-dominated Malegaon, winning nine wards in the 84-seat Malegaon Municipal Corporation, which threw a hung House in the results declared on Friday. The BJP had failed to open its account in the last two municipal polls in the city, where Muslims constitute 78.94 per cent of the population. It had won a ward in 2002, when Malegaon held its first corporation elections.
While the Congress emerged the single-largest party with 28 seats, the NCP won 20 and its ally Janata Dal 6. The Shiv Sena won 13, BJP 9, AIMIM 7 and Independent 1. Elsewhere, the BJP won Panvel municipality, while Congress retained Bhiwandi. In Malegaon, the BJP, however, failed to make inroads into Muslim-dominated pockets despite putting up a record 27 candidates from the community from among its 55 candidates for these polls. All its victories came in Hindu-dominated wards.
Some Muslim candidates also said that they would have put up a better show had more state ministers and big leaders campaigned. While most of these 27 Muslim candidates polled more than 100 votes, with one candidate getting 884 votes, the difference between votes the party polled from the two communities was stark. The BJP’s 28 Hindu candidates polled 84,242 votes, with each candidate on average drawing 3,008 votes. The 27 Muslim candidates drew 8,916 votes, with an average of 330 votes.
“We have not had the desired success but we have made inroads in Muslim pockets,” BJP candidate Jabir Khan, who won 884 votes, said. “If candidates in Muslim areas had the desired support of the party, we would definitely have won a few seats…. When it came to helping us (during the campaigning), we received no help; we were left to fend for ourselves.”
Calling it a victory of the BJP’s “development agenda”, Nitin Pophale, member of the party’s state working committee, said, “Our candidates may not have been elected from Muslim constituencies but they have drawn unprecedented votes during these elections.”
The Congress had a comprehensive victory in Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation, winning 47 of 90 seats. The party saw its tally go up from 26 in 2012. The BJP won 19 seats (up from 8 in 2012), Shiv Sena 12 (down from 16 ), and the NCP, which had won eight wards the last time, drew a blank.
In the newly formed Panvel Municipal Corporation, the BJP swept aside a combined challenge from the Peasants and Workers Party, Congress and NCP and won 51 of 78 seats.