In a boost to Congress as it gears up for 2014 polls, the party won the Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad municipal corporation in Western Maharashtra.
The election results came as a setback for Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress’ ally and also rival, which had been controlling the civic body since 2008. It won just 18 seats.
The NCP’s rural development minister Jayant Patil, who spearheaded the poll campaign, will face criticism for the poor show in the party’s stronghold.
For the Congress, it was a much sought after victory at the local level as it secured majority on its own by winning 40 of 78 seats.
Eight seats were won by an alliance of the BJP Sena and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.
The election was marked by an acrimonious campaign that saw allies flinging allegations at one another.
This war of words raised the question of whether the two allies will be able to bury their differences and come together to fight the 2014 polls.
The state Congress party president Manikrao Thakre said, “The NCP-controlled civic body failed to meet the promises given to the people and there was anger against them. This victory is an indicator that people will always repose trust in our party. The decision on coalition will be taken by the party high command.”
“The Congress is open to alliance with like-minded secular parties. In this campaign, none of us made any derogatory statement against them. The NCP crossed the line.
So far, they have been attuned to us but there are certain mistakes we want them to rectify,” he said.
NCP sources said Jayant Patil’s tiff with a group of local leaders cost the party dearly adding that the election result was not a mandate against NCP.
“It had become a fight against Jayant Patil, with more than 19-odd corporators siding with the Congress just before the polls. In the last elections, this section [of corporators] had joined hands with us,” they said.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “We have to accept defeat. We will have to introspect why we won only 18 seats. We [allies] fight bitterly at local elections but still work together.”
“This ensures there is no space for the opposition,” Malik added.