Gram Panchayat polls to be crucial for MVA, BJP

Maharashtra Gram Panchayat polls to be crucial for MVA, BJP

These polls come close on the heels of elections to six seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council

The gram panchayat elections will be held just a year before the crucial 2022 municipal corporation polls in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur. Credit: AFP Photo

The mid-January Gram Panchayat polls in Maharashtra will be a sort of litmus test for both -- the 'Trimurti' alliance Maha Vikas Aghadi and the opposition BJP.

These polls come close on the heels of elections to six seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, in which the MVA won four seats, BJP and Independent, one each. The polls are very significant as 14,234 Gram Panchayats – which is nearly 50 per cent of the total 27,920 Gram Panchayats – would go to elections on January 15.

The nominations for the polls will begin on Wednesday, however, the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA had not taken any formal call for an overall alliance to counter the BJP.

As of now, the Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar-led NCP, and the Congress have left it for their local units to decide on tie-ups.

In the Gram Panchayats – which is the grass-roots level political set-up – the political equations and dynamics are different.

Symbols of registered political parties are not used in these elections and candidates and groups form panels and fight the elections. But they get the support of the mainstream political parties – and are keenly contested – and the results reflect the party’s following and penetration at the grass-roots level.

Thackeray, who is the Shiv Sena President, is in touch with state NCP President and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil and state Congress President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.

Within the MVA, there is a strong feeling that there should be a united fight against the BJP in the Gram Panchayat polls as they are encouraged with the response in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, where BJP could not win even the traditional Nagpur division graduates’ constituency that had been the stronghold of Jana Sangh and BJP. 
In fact, Leader of Opposition and ex-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s father late Gangadhar Fadnavis, and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari had represented the seat.

The gram panchayat elections will be held just a year before the crucial 2022 municipal corporation polls in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur.