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Rediff News  All News  » News » Maharashtra civic polls: Shock for Sena-BJP, wake-up call for Congress

Maharashtra civic polls: Shock for Sena-BJP, wake-up call for Congress

December 14, 2011 11:09 IST

Though the ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have punctured the Opposition's plan to cash in on anti-incumbency, price rise and corruption, in the municipality poll results in Maharashtra, it is a wake-up call for the former.

The Congress, which had emerged as the single largest party in the 2009 assembly elections and bagged 17 seats in the Lok Sabha elections held in the same year, failed to keep its tempo as its NCP partner won more seats.

It has failed to cash in on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's 'Mr Clean' image. It also failed to effectively reach out to the voters on its pro-development agenda. Chavan couldn't manage to get a party majority in his home town Karad, where a Congress-promoted front won eight seats against 21 bagged by the NCP.

Similarly, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is making efforts at the state and national level to spearhead an anti-corruption campaign, failed to sell it effectively to voters, as it emerged a poor forth.

Of the 2,985 seats in 132 municipalities, the Congress lost its number one position by winning 639 seats against NCP's record 1,114 seats.

The Shiv Sena became third by bagging 325 seats and its electoral aly, BJP, managed to win a mere 189 seats. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena bagged 51 seats. Independents have won 667 seats.

In his first political reaction after resignation, former chief minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan pressed for an introspection by the Congress party. "It is high time the party should self introspect and take corrective steps ahead of ensuing elections to the municipal corporation and Zilla Parishad. There is a also an urgent need for an effective coordination among the party's office bearers, the district guardian minister, party legislator and MPs to ensure victory," he noted.

Congress spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan shared the former chief minister's views but said it was not an end game for the Congress party.

"Each election is an incident in itself and cannot be compared with another. The party will critically examine the shortfalls and further carry out corrective actions," he added.

However, a senior minister opined that delays in decision making and in the utilisation of funds on the completion of various development projects in a time-bound manner also went against the Congress.

Interestingly, Shiv Sena, which contested these elections with an alliance with the BJP and the Republican Party of India, admitted that they could not mobilise voters against Congress and NCP on the issues of corruption, soaring price rise, increasing farmers suicides and load shedding.

On the other hand, state NCP president Madhukar Pichad gave full credit to party president Sharad Pawar and his policies of inclusive growth.

"Apart from our party president's leadership, the party's success was possible due to collective efforts by senior leaders including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and the rank and file. We made development an election issue and it paid off. The party has consolidated its position by not restricting its presence in western Maharashtra alone," he informed.

However, the election was a major disaster for BJP as the party failed to maintain its traditional bastions including Marathwada. A BJP legislator, who did not want to be identified, admitted that the infighting within the party and lack of coordination were largely responsible for poor show.

"The leader of opposition Eknath Khadse -- in his home Jalgaon district in northern Maharashtra -- was unable to improve party's performance. The party will also have to take a call on whether or not to fight elections in alliance with the Shiv Sena," he added.

Sanjay Jog In Mumbai