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Published On: Thu, Feb 23rd, 2017

Shiv Sena Ahead Of BJP In BMC election

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uddhav-thackeray-l1MUMBAI : The Shiv Sena took an early lead in elections to Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday morning. The Sena is leading in 67 seats, while the BJP, with 37 seats, has crossed its previous tally in results till now. The Congress trailed at number 3, leading in 10 seats.

The results after the counting, which began at 10 am today, will determine the fate of 21,620 candidates for 5,777 seats up for grabs in the 10 municipal corporations, 25 zilla parishads and 283 panchayat samitis for which the elections were held in two phases.

Votes are also being counted in nine other major municipalities in Maharashtra. The BMC has been controlled by the Shiv Sena for the last 20 years and its biggest challenge is from the BJP, its ally since 1992. The two parties contested separately this time after the Sena called off the partnership ahead of the elections.

As leads rolled in, the Shiv Sena’s Anil Desai said there was “no chance” of his party taking support of the BJP if it is short of majority at 114 of the BMC’s 227 seats. The BJP’s Madhav Bhandari said, it was too early to predict the result.

Apart from control over megacity Mumbai, today’s results will also decide a big prestige battle between the Shiv Sena’s Udhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has said that he will take onus for a BJP loss but will credit the party  for a victory.
Exit polls predicted a close contest between the Sena and the BJP. The Shiv Sena’s internal assessment, said sources, is that it can win 110 seats.The BJP is reportedly confident of winning 108 on its own and becoming the largest party. Officially the party’s Maharashtra chief Raosaheb Danve said, “Of the 10 municipal corporations that went to polls, the BJP will come to power in six, including Mumbai.”

There were many complaints of missing names in the voter lists for the BMC election and the state BJP has said that could mean fewer seats for it. “It was incumbent on the state’s Election Commission to ensure these things didn’t happen. Had these names not gone missing, the BJP would have got more seats than what we are expecting,” said BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari.

If the Shiv Sena loses control of the BMC, its loss of political space will be complete after the BJP dominated the last national and assembly elections redefining itself as the senior partner in the alliance. For years before it played junior to the Sena and the change in equation has brought the alliance to breakpoint.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has said that his party will withdraw from the central and state governments led by the BJP after the civic polls, though he has held out such threats before. He said the alliance was off after the two parties failed to agree on seats sharing. A bitter, often personal campaign followed.

It has been called a “mini-assembly election”  with voting also held for nine other major civic bodies, including those in Nagpur, Thane, Pune and Nashik and for 11 zilla parishads and 118 panchayat samitis. All votes are being counted today.

In the first round of civic elections held late last year and early this year, the BJP was the major  gainer, making significant inroads in the Congress and NCP’s traditional strongholds in rural Maharashtra.
The BMC, Asia’s richest civic body, has an annual budget of 37,000 crores, more than that of some states. 55 percent voted in the Mumbai civic polls on Tuesday, the highest voter turnout in 25 years. In the last BMC election, the Shiv Sena had won 75 seats, the BJP, contesting as its ally, had won 31, the Congress had 52 and the NCP 13.

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