In the second phase of local body elections in the state, voting began in 14 municipal councils in Pune and Latur districts, mostly strongholds of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, at 7.30 am on Wednesday. The votes will be counted on Thursday.
A total of 1,326 candidates are in the fray for 324 council seats across 14 municipal councils. Like in the first phase of the local body elections, the president of the councils will also be directly elected by the people, with 106 candidates vying for the 14 municipal council president posts, as per information from the State Election Commission (SEC). The voting will go on till 5.30 pm.
The municipal councils in the Pune district where polls are underway include Baramati, Talegaon-Dabhade, Lonavala, Daund, Junnar, Shirur, Alandi, Saswad, Jejuri, and Induapur. From the Latur district, voting is underway in the municipal councils of Udgir, Ahmedpur, Ausa and Nilanga.
Withstanding the litmus test, despite the opposition’s barbs over alleged corruption and demonetisation, the BJP stamped its popularity across the state by emerging with a clear lead in the first phase of elections where 147 municipal councils and 18 nagar panchayats went to polls.
Fifty-one of the 147 municipal council presidents elected were from the BJP, while the party also triumphed in 893 of the 3,727 municipal council seats in the first phase, as per SEC data.
However, a substantial part of the victory came from the municipal councils in the Nagpur and Amravati divisions, seen as strongholds of the BJP. The second phase of elections, mostly to councils held by the Congress and NCP, will give a clearer picture of whether the BJP has managed to make chinks in the opposition’s bastions.
A total of 212 municipal councils and nagar panchayats across the state are to go to polls in four phases, in what is being seen as a mini-assembly election.
The polls are said to give an insight into whether the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) still holds sway among the public, and if its ally Shiv Sena, restless in the role of a junior coalition partner, is capable of matching or outpacing its bitter ally. The elections will also indicate if the Congress and NCP, decimated during the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections of 2014, are still popular in Maharashtra’s semi-urban centres.
The next two phases of the local body polls will be on December 18 and January 8.