Nearly 60 per cent of Malegaon’s registered voters exercised their voting rights amidst heavy police deployment in a largely uneventful elections for the 84-seat Malegaon Municipal Corporation. Malegaon’s elections are known for its rambunctious campaigning and volatility during polling day. However, a deployment of nearly 3,000 police personnel in the city at various polling booths meant the elections occurred without any untoward incident.
“The elections were peaceful barring a stray incident of fighting that took place at one polling booth early in the morning. The tactical deployment of police personnel as well as our insistence of only allowing those with photo Ids inside booths helped us in avoiding any conflict and facilitated a peaceful elections,” Malegaon Municipal Corporation Commissioner Ravindra Jagtap said.
The 516 booths across the city were filled with Burkha clad women as well as the elderly who were ferried to the booth on the 120 new wheelchairs that the Malegaon Municipal Corporation had procured to facilitate the voting process.
A total of 373 candidates are in the fray for the 84 corporation seats. Of these, elections are contested on only 83 seats as one Congress candidate was elected unopposed.
The Congress, the Janata Dal and the NCP are the dominant forces in the corporation.
Elections to the MMC which looks into the affairs of one of India’s very few Muslim-dominated cities had gained prominence because of the interest that the BJP had shown by putting up a record 27 candidates.
Malegaon has a population of 4.81 lakh, of which 78.94 per cent are Muslims. The BJP, in a major outreach to the community, had decided to put up a record breaking 27 Muslim candidates from the 56 seats that it is contesting.
The BJP, however, has never been a strong player in Malegaon’s politics and always played a second fiddle to its erstwhile electoral ally the Shiv Sena in the city. In the last elections, the party had not managed to win a single seat in the corporation.
The BJP, however, is upbeat this time around.
“All our 27 Muslim candidates have put up a strong fight that too without any party funding. We are hopeful that we will win this time around,” Shabbir Baba, a BJP activist who has been coordinating in the local elections, said.