Updated: January 20, 2021 2:17:52 am
The declaration of results of the gram panchayat polls in Maharashtra on Tuesday triggered claims of victory by rival political parties, with both the BJP and NCP claiming to have bagged the most number of wins in a hard fought and tight contest between four contenders, the other two being the Shiv Sena and Congress.
However, the three constituents of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition — Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — have a combined total of more wins than the BJP.
Results for 13,769 gram panchayats were announced on Tuesday, which showed BJP ahead with 3,263 wins, followed by NCP (2,999), Shiv Sena (2,808) and Congress (2,151).
The MNS won 38 and others, including local groups, bagged 2,510. AAP made its debut with 96 of its candidates winning.
But as gram panchayat elections are not fought on party symbols, the final tally could change, with anticipated deals over the next few days with Independent winning candidates and panels or village level groups fuelling rival claims.
The big four have started the process of wooing such groups as well as Independents to increase their tally and get an edge in the sarpanch elections ahead, the dates for which are yet to be announced.
State Minister for Rural Development Hassan Mushriff said a draw would be held within eight to 10 days to choose villages where the sarpanch will be from reserved category. “Sarpanch elections will be held after that,” he added.
With at least a week in hand, parties are busy drawing up possible alliances.
State NCP president Jayant Patil asserted, “The NCP is the single largest party with 3,276 gram panchayats.”
Dismissing identical claims from the BJP, he said, “They don’t account for even 20 per cent of the total gram panchayats. Almost 80 per cent have been captured by Maha Vikas Aghadi constituents — NCP 3,276, Congress 1,938 and Shiv Sena 2,406. The BJP won only 2,942 gram panchayats.”
Based on these figures, the NCP, Congress and Sena add up to 9,070 gram panchayats. However, to ensure that the coalition works perfectly at gram panchayats is a task for all three parties. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar made an appeal for sinking differences to work for the sake of village development.
Asserting its claim, the BJP issued an official statement followed by a briefing at its headquarters by state party media cell in charge Vishwas Pathak. He claimed that the party had won 5,721 gram panchayats.
“The results are very satisfying. We have been able to retain our hold in gram panchayats when compared to the 2015 polls,” he said.
The Shiv Sena, reconciled to number three position, did not contest against the NCP or BJP-backed candidates.
The Congress, relegated to fourth position, insisted it had fared on a par with the NCP. Party leader and Minister Nitin Raut said, “We gave BJP a tough fight in Vidarbha… This is just the beginning. Hereafter, Congress will overtake BJP in successive polls.”
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