The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena alliance has significant leverage in the civic polls, as initial results show that the parties are far ahead of the Opposition — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — that are contesting on their own, except at a few places.
Of the 147 municipal councils for which polls were held on Sunday, the BJP has registered victories at 40 so far. Its ally, the Shiv Sena, won 18, according to reports.
So far, the Congress has won 17 councils, while the NCP has won 10. This is being seen as a poor performance by the two parties, which ruled a majority of the councils prior to this election.
However, the state election commission is yet to declare official figures.
The election assumes significance as it is being held amid the cash crisis caused by demonetisation, a move that severely affected rural areas. The Congress and NCP were expected to cash on the people’s distress and make a political comeback after a crushing defeat in 2014 assembly polls.
The polls are thus being viewed as a litmus test for the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
Congress and NCP leaders have still their fingers crossed as the results of half the councils are yet to be announced.
As many as 15,826 candidates were in the fray for the 3,705 seats spread over 1,967 wards of the municipal councils and nagar panchayats. Around 658.49 lakh voters were expected to cast their vote in the poll exercise on Sunday.