After a year-long winning spree in local bodies’ elections, the BJP on Thursday suffered a setback in the Nanded civic polls, home turf of Congress leader Ashok Chavan, whose party bagged 69 of the 81 seats.
The BJP managed to win just six seats in the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC) while Shiv Sena won just 1 seat. The counting on four seats got delayed as the (VVPAT) machines along with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) were used.
Chavan, who is the state Congress chief, attributed the party’s win to non-tampering of EVMs and said that the BJP’s “return journey” has started.
According to the figures released by the State Election Commission of Maharashtra (SECM), of the 77 seats, the Congress won 69, followed by the BJP that bagged six seats. The Shiv Sena just about managed to open its account with one seat. An independent candidate also won a seat.
“Today’s results have proven that the return journey of the BJP has started from Maharashtra. Our ground work in Nanded ensured that there was no tampering of EVMs, which led to our victory,” Chavan told reporters here after taking part in the victory celebrations outside the Mumbai Congress office.
He said the BJP had “poached” five to six corporators, but all of them lost.
“There is severe discontent among the people due to high fuel prices, farmers’ suicides and troubles caused to cultivators due to faulty loan waiver system. People have understood the hollow claims made by the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis),” Chavan said.
The leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde said his party was satisfied that “fascist forces” have been shown their place.
“This result is a proof that people are fed up with the BJP-led Centre and state government. We are satisfied that fascist forces have been destroyed, shown their place and a secular party has won,” Munde said.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the “Modi wave” has subsided and that people have rejected the saffron party’s call of coming to power across the nation.
“The BJP claims it is a party with a difference. But it indulged in every possible malpractice in Nanded civic polls, including using money power and government machinery. Yet, they were rejected,” he said.
Maharashtra Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar, who was in-charge of the party’s poll machinery in Nanded, claimed that the BJP’s vote share rose from 3 per cent in 2012 to 19 per cent this time around.
Known for his outspoken nature, BJP’s new ally and Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha (MSP) leader Narayan Rane advised the BJP leadership to do introspection on why it fared so bad despite the chief minister holding many election rallies in the run-up to the Nanded civic polls.
He, however, dismissed the argument that the Nanded civic poll results would have an impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
The Nanded civic body has been ruled by the Congress, since it came into existence two decades ago.
The BJP won 12 of the 16 civic bodies in Maharashtra, for which polls were held this year, expanding its footprint in the state’s urban pockets. It had made inroads into traditional Congress strongholds and also those of partner Shiv Sena.
In the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC), the party-wise strength is as follows: Congress 41, Shiv Sena 14, AIMIM 11, NCP 10, independents 3 and BJP 2.