Maharashtra polls: Urban conquests won BJP half the battle

  • Surendra P Gangan, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 22, 2014 21:46 IST

Nearly half of the 122 seats that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in the assembly elections were in urban areas.

According to experts, the BJP’s development plank and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aura attracted voters in urban areas such as Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik.

In some cities, the BJP’s haul was unprecedented.

In Mumbai, the party nosed head of the Shiv Sena, winning 15 seats to its former ally’s 14. But in cities such as Pune and Nashik, it was sheer domination, with the BJP winning all eight seats in the former and all three in the latter.

The party’s performance in Vidarbha was key to its record tally. It won most of the urban constituencies in the region, including all six in Nagpur, and faring well in Solapur, Yavatmal, Jalgaon and Nanded.

In all, the BJP won in 55 constituencies administered by municipal corporations. In the 2009 assembly polls, when the party had won 46 seats, just 10 seats were in urban areas.

“The party strategically targeted constituencies with urban and semi-urban populations using Modi’s development plank,” said Prakash Bal, a political analyst. “Other than big cities, the state has 10-12 towns that are evolving into urban areas. BJP targeted these towns with several public meetings addressed by Modi, aiming to win maximum seats from them. It succeeded to such an extent that it took over the Sena bastion of Mumbai.”

He added that young voters – including Maharashtrian youngsters — voted for the BJP.

“First-time voters and youth under 25 years voted for BJP candidates,” said BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari. “Youth believe that the BJP can turn their aspirations into a reality.”

According to Prakash Bal, despite its urban success, the BJP did not get more than 122 seats owing to its limitations of reaching out to the rural mass as it has no organisation set up with that capacity.

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