Mumbai: The Congress has swept municipal elections in Maharashtra's Nanded-Waghala today, winning 67 of 81 seats. The ruling BJP has won four and its ally the Shiv Sena has won a single seat.
Nanded is considered Congress turf. It is the home base of Congress state president and former chief minister Ashok Chavan and the party has dominated the municipal corporation since it was formed two decades ago. The BJP, on an upswing in Maharashtra since its big wins in the 2014 national and state elections, hoped to change that. An aggressive campaign saw a bitter war of words between the BJP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena.
The AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen), which had 11 corporators in the outgoing civic body, has been routed. The Congress had 41, the Shiv Sena had 14 and the Nationalist Congress Party's 10. The BJP had no seats in the last election.
The BJP, which won the most seats in Maharashtra in the general election three years ago and then again in the assembly elections a few months later, has consolidated its position as the state's number 1 party by winning 12 of 16 civic bodies for which elections have been held since late last year. In as made inroads in traditional Congress strongholds and also those of partner Shiv Sena, which has been bristling at being upstaged by the BJP, its junior partner in Maharshtra for many years.
In elections this February to Mumbai's BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), Asia's richest municipality, the BJP dramatically improved its position coming a very close second to the Shiv Sena with 82 seats to the Sena's 84. It further closed that gap yesterday by winning a by-election to a seat left vacant by the death of a Congress corporator.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena contested separately and no party could win a majority in the election to the BMC, dominated for years by the Shiv Sena. But in elections held at the same time for nine other municipalities, the BJP won eight. The Shiv Sena managed to retain Thane, where it won 42 seats while the BJP came third with 14 seats, while the NCP won 16 there.