Civic polls: Shiv Sena, BJP neck and neck in Mumbai

BJP emerges largest party across Maharashtra

Civic polls: Shiv Sena, BJP neck and neck in Mumbai
India’s biggest civic body of Mumbai on Thursday recorded a neck-and-neck finish to the municipal elections with the Shiv Sena and the BJP looking at the mayoral seat following a fractured mandate.

They had contested the polls against each other for the first time in 25 years. While improving its tally in Mumbai, the BJP also made significant gains in the nine municipal corporations, 25 zilla parishads  and 283 panchayat samitis, emerging as no. 1 in the civic polls across Maharashtra.

In the 227-ward Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) which has a budget of Rs 37,052 crore and fixed deposits worth Rs 51,000 crore – higher than some states – it was a high-pitched battle between the two parties that are alliance partners at the Centre and in the state government.

The Shiv Sena leads the tally with 84 seats, followed by the BJP (82), Congress (31), Nationalist Congress Party (9), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (7) and others (14). In the 2012 polls, the Shiv Sena won 75 seats followed by the Congress (52), BJP (31), NCP (7), MNS (27), SP (9) and others (32).  In the last two decades, the Sena-BJP combine had been constantly in power in Mumbai.

A party needs 114 seats to get its mayor elected in Mumbai. With neither the Shiv Sena nor the BJP making it on its own, several permutations and combinations are now open.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, who led the campaign for their respective parties, preferred to speak with caution on a possible post-poll alliance and claim to the mayoral post.  “There is a core committee for this purpose, let them look into it,” he said. “We would respect and fulfil the wishes of the people," he said.
When Thackeray was asked about it, he said, “Why are you in a hurry... we are the no. 1 party in Mumbai. I am not going to say anything on this today”.

Pressed for an answer, he said let the mayoral election be declared first. “Till then, let’s eat sweets.” Repeatedly asked whether the next mayor would be from the Shiv Sena, he said that not only the Mumbai mayor, the next chief minister would be from the Shiv Sena.

Though the Sena’s tally is more than that of its former alliance partner in Mumbai corporation, BJP’s Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar said his party had the pre-poll support of some independents.

At this stage, both saffron parties seem to be waiting for the other side to make the first move. The issue of demonetisation, which was a poll plank of all parties, did not seem to have an impact.

So far results of 1,453 seats of the total 1,509 has been declared and the BJP has won 392 seats. The NCP has won 336 seats followed by Shiv Sena 299 and Congress 293.

“I would like to congratulate Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the BJP workers for the tremendous support. Even after demonetisation the people have supported us in this election. The trust that has been shown by the people is due to the development work done by the BJP government," senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari said.

Congress and the Raj Thackeray-led MNS suffered badly in the elections. However, if Shiv Sena and BJP do not come together again, these two arties will play an important role.

The BJP is also leading in zilla parishads and panchayat samitis and has emerged as the No 1 party, according to the results declared so far by the State Election Commission.
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