The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday scored a resounding victory in Maharashtra civil polls emerging as the largest party in eight of the 10 municipal corporations while finishing a close second to bellicose ally Shiv Sena in the latter’s Mumbai bastion.
The BJP was the number one party in Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur. Shiv Sena led the tally in Mumbai and adjoining Thane.
Making giant strides in the Shiv Sena citadel of Mumbai, BJP won 82 seats in the fiercely fought BMC polls, just two less than the estranged saffron ally, but both were well short of the magic figure of 114 needed to control the civic body.
The hung verdict will reset the political calculations as no party is in the position to rule the country’s richest civic body on its own and alliance seems inevitable.
However, it is not yet clear whether the saffron allies, who share power both in Maharashtra and at the Centre, will get back together or new combinations will emerge.
In the counting of votes held on Thursday, the Congress was relegated to the third position with 31 seats, whereas the Nationalist Congress Party and Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were reduced to 9 and 7 seats, respectively.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, which had made its maiden entry into the Maharashtra assembly with two seats in the last polls, won three seats on debut in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, Samajwadi Party six, Akhil Bhartiya Sena one and Independents four.
For the 25 zilla parishads, BJP led the tally, winning 397 of the 1,509 seats for which polls were held. It was followed by NCP 336, Congress 293 and Shiv Sena 259.
The MNS got one and others 147. Results of 76 seats were awaited till late night.
For the 2,990 Panchayat Samiti seats, the BJP got the lion’s share, winning 803, while NCP got 630, Congress 555 and Sena 538. The MNS pocketed just two and others 281 seats.
Results of the 181 seats were awaited till late night.
Thanking the voters, an elated Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Our victory is the result of people’s acceptance of our agenda of transparency,” and indicated that his party’s core committee would explore the options before it.
Asked about the future course of action, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray said, “What is the hurry? Wait for some time. We have not yet decided if an alliance has to be made or not. We will do so soon.”
With BMC polls throwing no clear winner, a senior Maharashtra BJP leader said both the parties should join hands in Mumbai.
“Enough of bitterness. Now, it’s time to come together again,” Chandrakant Patil, minister in the Devendra Fadnavis ministry said, indicating that the bickering allies in the state government could come together after Thursday's fractured verdict.
“Is there any option other than the two parties coming together, given the number of seats each one has bagged? Will they (Shiv Sena) take support of the Congress?” Patil, known to have excellent rapport with the central BJP leadership, said.
In January, the BJP had emerged the number one party in polls for 212 municipal bodies, winning 1,207 seats followed by the Congress (919), the NCP (788) and the Shiv Sena (616).
The Shiv Sena, which has ruled the Thane Municipal Corporation for the last 25 years, retained its hold on the civic body by winning 67 seats out of 131 followed by the NCP, 34.
The BJP won 23 seats, while the Congress could manage to win only four. Four independents were also elected.
The BJP breached NCP’s bastion Pune by winning 98 out of the 162 seats. It came to power in the city for the first time. The Sharad Pawar-led NCP won 40 seats in PMC, followed by the Congress, 11, the Shiv Sena, 10, the MNS, two and on Independent.
The BJP also wrested control of the municipal corporation of the twin industrial towns of Pimpri and Chinchwad near Pune from the ruling NCP, winning 78 out of the 128 seats.
The NCP won 35, the Shiv Sena nine, independents five, while the MNS had to remain content with just one. The Congress did not win a single seat.
In Nagpur Municipal Corporation, out of 155 seats, BJP won 101, Congress 28, independents 10, Shiv Sena three and NCP just one. The results of 12 seats are awaited.
In the 122-member Nashik Municipal Corporation which was controlled by Raj Thackeray’s MNS, BJP won 67, Shiv Sena 34, Congress and NCP six each, while MNS won merely five. Independents clinched four seats.
The BJP clinched 32 seats in the 78-member Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation, the Shiv Sena 25, independents 16, the NCP four and Congress just one.
In Solapur Municipal Corporation, out of 102 seats, the BJP won 47, the Shiv Sena 20, independents 17, the Congress 14 and the NCP four.
Of the 80 seats in Akola Municipal Corporation, the BJP pocketed 48, the Congress 13, the Shiv Sena eight, independent six and the NCP five.
In Amravati civic body, out of 87 seats, the BJP won 45, independents 20, the Congress 15 and Shiv Sena seven.
Elated over the mandate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the people of Maharashtra for reposing their faith in the ‘politics of development’ and ‘good governance’ and praised BJP workers, particularly Fadnavis and state party president Raosaheb Danve Patil.
BJP chief Amit Shah said the party would celebrate its impressive show in the Odisha and Maharashtra civic polls as ‘vijay utsav’ (victory celebration) on February 25 across all its district offices in the country.
In Buldhana Zilla Parishad, the BJP won 24 out of 60 seats. The party is set to come to power in Wardha (31 out of 52), Chandrapur (33 out of 52) and Latur (37 out of 58). It is short of one seat in Jalgaon as it won 33 out of 67 seats.
It has scored well in Sangli (23 out of 60) Gadchiroli (20 out of 51) and Osmanabad (22 out of 56). In many districts, the BJP had opened its account for the first time.
As many as 11,989 candidates were in the fray for 2,567 seats across 14 zilla parishads and 165 panchayat samitis which went to polls in first phase on February 16.
In the second phase held on February 21, a total of 9,208 candidates were in the fray for 1,268 seats of the ten municipal corporations. In 11 zilla parishads, 2,956 contestants were in the contest for 654 seats, and 5,167 nominees for 1,288 seats in 118 panchayat samitis.
In the Nagar Parishad and Municipal Council polls held in November last year, the BJP had notched up the highest number of seats (851 as against 396 in the previous, 2011 polls). Of the 147 municipal councils that went to the polls on November 27, the BJP won 47 at a time when the fallout of the demonetisation decision was still unfolding.