Bagging 61 of the 95 seats in the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued its winning streak in local body polls, making large gains in a region once dominated by the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). In a major setback to the Sena, which had hoped to win more than 45 seats, it won only 22 seats.
The NCP, whose prominent local leader Gilbert Mendonca recently moved to the Sena, was decimated, unable to open its account. In the outgoing general body of elected representatives in the municipality, the NCP had 27 corporators. The Congress won 10 seats while two were picked up by Independents.
In 2012, the BJP became the single largest party in the civic body by winning 29 seats. It was followed by NCP with 27 seats. The Congress had won 19 seats, while the Sena won 14 seats. The rest were won by small parties and Independents. While this poll was termed as a close contest between the BJP and the Sena, the Sena proved to be no match for the BJP, which fought in alliance with the Republican Party of India (Athawale) while the Sena, NCP and Congress fought the polls alone.
Kirit Somaiya, BJP MP, said the Sena should accept the bitter truth of its inability to slow down the BJP juggernaut. “BJP sweeps Mira-Bhayander Municipal Election… Disaster for Shiv Sena… hope now the Bandra supremo will accept the reality and respect PM Modi CM Fadnavis,” Somaiya Tweeted. Ashish Shelar, Mumbai BJP chief said: “The BJP, which promised transparency, has been accepted by the people who gave us full majority. The result exposed the true strength of some parties.”
The results came as a big setback for the Sena, which was hoping to win between 45 and 54 seats. The Sena had started preparations for the polls months ago with the induction of sitting corporators and leaders from the Congress, NCP and BJP. The Sena had increased its sitting corporators’ tally to more than 30 ahead of the polls. Besides, the Sena had given tickets to 36 non-Marathi candidates in an effort to woo these groups. However, the formula appeared to have failed, though Sena leaders put up a brave face. “It is true that we could not get the expected seats in the polls. But our tally has improved substantially compared to the 2012 poll results. Of the 22 seats, 15 are from Marathi dominated areas and seven include four Christians, two North Indians and a Gujarati. It means the Marathi people stood behind us in the polls and those from other communities also won the polls on our ticket,” said Pratap Sarnaik, Sena in-charge of Mira-Bhayander.
“The BJP campaigned on religion and emotive issues to win. It created a divide among communities that is harmful in the long run,” said Nawab Malik, NCP’s chief spokesperson. He conceded that multiple defections had affected the NCP’s strength. Congress managed to win 10 seats including one unopposed seat. Some of the Congress victories came in areas where former Congress legislator Muzaffar Hussain holds considerable influence. His mother Saiyed Noorjahan Nazarhussain, 68, a former deputy mayor, also won. Meanwhile, the Sena said it would complain to the state poll panel against a Jain monk who sought votes for the BJP through a video message. “It is illegal. We will ask the panel for action,” said Sarnaik.