Eye on Shiv Sena-BJP clash as campaigning for Maharashtra civic polls ends
The gruelling campaign for the civic polls in Mumbai and nine other cities across Maharashtra ended on Sunday evening, with the BJP-Shiv Sena rift casting a shadow over the stability of the Devendra Fadnavis government.mumbai Updated: Feb 19, 2017 19:38 IST
The gruelling campaign for the civic polls in Mumbai and nine other cities across Maharashtra ended on Sunday evening, with the BJP-Shiv Sena rift casting a shadow over the stability of the Devendra Fadnavis government.
Dubbed as a mini assembly election, over 1.94 crore voters across the state are entitled to exercise their franchise to choose representatives for 10 city corporations on February 21.
On the same day 11 zila parishads will go to the polls in the second phase. The first phase of the polls in 15 zila parishads was held on February 16.
The electioneering assumed an unusually shrill pitch in the final phases largely due to the acrimony between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, fighting the civic polls separately for the first time in over two decades, though the Congress, NCP and MNS are also in the fray.
Allegations and counter-allegations flew thick all through the run-up to the election, which has virtually turned into a battle of prestige for chief minister Fadnavis, heading the state’s first BJP-led government, and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who led the front from their respective camps.
The Congress, plagued by infighting in Mumbai, appears to have failed to take advantage of the BJP-Sena rift, according to political observers.
The big poll focus is on cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), retaining control of which is vital for the Shiv Sena as the city has remained its prime political space ever since the party’s formation in 1966.
The Shiv Sena has been in power in the BMC for over two decades.
The BJP, which had been a junior partner of the Sena before it gained the upper hand through the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly polls, declined to accept the number of seats offered by the Sena. It has set its eyes on gaining power in the BMC, one of the world’s largest city bodies, boasting of an annual budget of over Rs 37,000 crore.
In the political cacophony, larger civic issues like good roads, uninterrupted water supply and other basic amenities which the common man looks for, have largely drowned, the observers feel.
Midway through the campaign, Thackeray put the Fadnavis government on “notice period”, a threat which failed to deter the BJP from pushing ahead with its no-holds-barred assault on the estranged ally, mustering its full organisational strength.
The Sena chief, however, appears to have softened his stance later, saying the support to the government would depend upon what it would do for the distressed farmers, even as he ruled out post-poll pact with BJP in Mumbai.
Besides Mumbai, the other municipal corporations going to polls are Thane, Nagpur, Nashik, Pune, Amravati, Akola, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Ulhasnagar and Solapur.
In Mumbai, a staggering 2,275 candidates are in the fray for 227 seats. In adjoining Thane, 805 candidates are vying for 131 seats in the municipal corporation. Thane city has a total of 12.30 lakh eligible voters.
Besides civic corporations and zila parishads, 118 panchayat samitis will also go to polls on Tuesday.