The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged as a major force in Vidarbha in a repeat of its performance in the 2014 state election, by capturing all the municipal corporations in the region — Nagpur, Amravati and Akola — with a comfortable majority.The saffron surge was visible from the beginning, with the party grabbing the most seats in the three municipal corporations. Its immediate rival, the Congress, lagged far behind.
The BJP swept the Nagpur civic body polls — the home turf of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister for transport Nitin Gadkari — by bagging 101 of 151 seats. The BJP led an alliance to rule the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) with 64 seats of its 145 strength in 2012 elections. The BJP workers were so confident of their win, they had started celebrating on Thursday morning itself.
On the other hand, the Congress suffered a major setback when its city president and Opposition leader in NMC, Vikas Thakre, was defeated by Dilip Diwe — the brother of Gadkari’s former private secretary — by 800 votes. With Congress bagging only 28 seats, this was the party’s worst performance.
The home of former Union minister and seven-time Lok Sabha member Vilas Muttemwar — also the hub of Congress activities in the city — looked deserted as the results poured in. Muttewar ran the party through his proxy and loyalist Vikas Thakre.
The BJP won all four seats from prabhagh 15 in west Nagpur, which once housed the Fadnavis residence. However, the face of the party and Gadkari’s trusted lieutenant, Bandu Raut, was defeated by the city youth Congress chief Bunty Shelke from prabhag18 where Gadkari stays. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) headquarters also falls under this division.
Other parties were disappointed as they won only a few seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) bagged 7 seats. The Shiv Sena and NCP gained only two seats each. Both parties won six seats each during the 2012 elections. The MNS failed to bag a single seat.
In the Akola Municipal Corporation, BJP bagged 48 seats, retaining its rule with an absolute majority in the 80-member house. The Congress won 13 seats while the Shiv Sena got 8.
In the Amravati Municipal Corporation elections, the BJP wrested power from Congress-NCP alliance by getting 45 of 87 seats. The Congress obtained 15 while the Sena got 7. Earlier, BJP candidate Reeta Padole, was elected unopposed in the elections.
Political pundits said the victory vindicated the leadership of Fadnavis and Gadkari, who handled the election campaign as seasoned politicians. Chief minister Fadnavis held a record number of rallies in the region.
The BJP also got maximum seats in zilla parishad elections, emerging as the majority in Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Buldhana and Wardha. It can wrest control of the Yavatmal and Amravati zilla parishads from the Congress-NCP alliance, with the help of the Shiv Sena.