Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine's bid to wrest control of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Friday appeared coming to a naught with the country's richest civic body's ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance set to emerge as the largest bloc.
The Sena-BJP-RPI combine is ahead in 103 seats, while Congress-Nationalist Congress Party is leading in 63 seats, according to the trends available for 221 seats out of total 227.
Though the BMC results appear likely to throw up a hung House, the state's ruling Congress-NCP combine seems nowhere near the half-way mark to enable it to rule the Mumbai [ Images ] civic body, which has an annual budget of over 21,000 crore, more than many states.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan [ Images ], who had claimed before the polls that Shiv Sena [ Images ] and its leader Bal Thackeray [ Images ] will be rendered irrelevant once the results were out, seems to have overestimated the Mumbaikar's eagerness to get rid of the16-year "misrule" of the saffron alliance.
The techno-savvy politician, who was despatched to Maharashtra after his predecessor Ashok Chavan [ Images ] had to step down in the wake of the Adarsh Housing Society scam, had painstakingly stitched up an alliance with NCP for the BMC poll in order to avoid split in secular votes.
What had prompted Chavan to cobble together an alliance with NCP for the Mumbai civic body poll was the fact that in the last elections, the votes polled by the Congress and NCP, which had then contested the BMC poll separately, if added, would have yielded 132 seats. "Hence, getting a simple majority of 114 seats in the 227-member BMC should not be difficult," Chavan had said.
Chavan had been saying that MNS support base, which has widened markedly since the 2007 BMC poll, would benefit the Congress-led Democratic Front, as the Raj Thackeray-led party would into eat into the Sena-BJP votes as in the past.
Today, with the Sena-BJP combine looking to cross the 100-mark, it appears that Sena executive president Uddhav may concentrate on roping in independents to reach the magical 114 mark, instead of pleading with estranged cousin Raj to lend support.
The Shiv Sena today said the verdict in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls was a slap on the face of Congress-NCP.
"Mumbaikars have slapped Congress-NCP on the face," Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said in Mumbai.
Raut said that citizens of the megapolis would never tolerate the insult of Shiv Sena president Bal Thackeray. About Raj Thackeray-led MNS, which was expected to eat massively into Shiv Sena's vote bank, Raut said, "There is nothing like MNS factor."
Raut said that Ramdas Athavale-led faction of Republican Party of India [ Images ], which had allied with Sena-BJP for these polls, did contribute to the alliance's performance.
In Thane also, the Sena-BJP alliance is way ahead of the Congress-NCP combine. While the Sena has secured 51 seats, and BJP 7, Congress has so far got 18 and NCP 34. MNS has garnered 9 seats, BSP 2 and independents 8.
Revolutionary Party of India president Ramdas Athvale's decision to align with the Sena-BJP alliance has not paid rich dividends for the party as it has so far won just a single seat in the 130-member Thane civic body.
In Nagpur, the ruling BJP has claimed 23 out of 50 seats of Nagpur Municipal Corporation for which results have come in so far. Their ally Shiv Sena has bagged three seats.
Congress has won 14 seats while BSP and independents have bagged four seats each so far. MNS and NCP have won one each.
In Nashik, MNS has bagged 10 seats, while Congress, NCP and BJP were leading in five seats each by noon. Results of 42 seats out of the total 122 are out.
Congress has won 9, NCP 8, Shiv Sena 8, BJP 6, and independent 1.
In Pune, in an upset for NCP, Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal has lost to his BJP rival as per the early results for the 152- member Pune Municipal Corporation.
NCP was leading in 31 seats, Congress 16, BJP-Sena combine 17, and MNS in 15 seats in 82 out of total 152 seats in PMC.
Ganesh Bidkar (BJP), who was chairman of the standing committee in the outgoing house, defeated Rajpal by 1,264 votes.
While the Shiv Sena-BJP combine rules 227-member BMC, besides neighbouring Thane (130), Ulhasnagar(78), Nashik (122) and Nagpur (145), Congress controls Amravati (87), the
Congress-NCP combine Pune (152) and Solapur (102). NCP holds Pimpri-Chinchwad civic body (126) and Congress Amravati (87).