With one more phase to go for the municipal council and nagar panchayat polls, dubbed as part of the mini assembly polls, in Maharashtra, the BJP government has substantially improved its performance compared to 2011. While the saffron party emerged victorious in the first two phases, the Congress shared laurels with the BJP in the third phase.The local polls are seen as a bellwether of the Devendra Fadnavis government performance in the last two years and the Centre’s demonetisation move. Here are the five takeaways.
1 The BJP has stamped its presence across all small towns in the state winning the maximum number of seats and most presidential posts in the 199 municipal councils and nagar panchayats. The party jumped from a poor third rank with 340 seats in 2011 to number one rank with 1,090 seats.
2 Since the 2014 assembly polls victory, the Fadnavis-led government has managed to keep the momentum despite demonetisation pangs for the rural economy and lack of grass root level presence in these small, rural towns. Deft electoral management and strategic decisions such introducing direct election of municipal council presidents helped the BJP score brownie points over other parties, insiders say.
3 Although Congress and NCP’s numbers fell in the municipal councils, they managed to regain some of the lost ground, considering the 2014 assembly wipe out. For instance, they continue to dominate the Marathwada region. The Congress saved face by ranking number 2 in terms of seats as well as party president posts
4 The BJP’s victory largely came thanks to the party cementing its base in Vidarbha. As many as 518 seats of 1,090 seats came from this region. The BJP also largely ate into its ally Shiv Sena’s vote bank besides poaching on Congress’ space
5 While the Sena managed to increase its share of seats from 2011 polls, compared to the last assembly elections of 2014, its space has been eroded by the BJP. The party retained its strength only in Konkan, and lost a fair amount of its advantage to the BJP in Marathwada, North Maharashtra.