There is a saying that does the rounds in the state’s political circles — A win in Mumbai leads to a victory in Maharashtra. This is because the city elects a chunk of 36 legislators in the 288-member state Assembly.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance in the Mumbai civic polls with 82 seats is a big win against its belligerent ally, but more importantly, it is also another step towards bolstering its chances in the 2019 Assembly polls. In Mumbai and eight other big cities that went to polls (except Thane), BJP has scored over its friend-turned-foe and the Opposition, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
“For every seat that we win in this city, we will be able to set up a base in that locality. This will help us in the 2019 polls,’’ BJP city chief Ashish Shelar told HT, on the eve of the BMC polls. The city had 11 assembly constituencies where BJP had no presence, given that in many of these seats, it had never contested before.
On Thursday, as the results came in, the party breached some of these constituencies, not in a big way but enough to help it make a bid in 2019. It gained from 205 seats in civic corporations in 2012 to 629 in 2017 and from just 169 seats in Zilla Parishads in 2012 to 400 seats in 2017. In both the civic corporations and Zilla Parishads, it emerged as the number one party.
“As a party in power, if we cannot spread our organisation across the state now, when else do we do it? BJP is very clear about its motto, ’shat pratishat bhajapa’ (100% BJP ) and this is the beginning of it. Our victory today has marginalised the Congress in a state that it has controlled since Independence,’’ said a senior BJP minister.
At a micro level, the wins in Mumbai show that the party largely consolidated on its 2014 gains from the Assembly, by picking up a majority in its traditional support bases like Mulund and Borivli, which has Gujarati voters. It gained at the cost of the Sena in some Marathi pockets like Andheri (east), Jogeshwari (east). It, however, failed to breach the Marathi heartland of Worli, Dadar, Parel. The party’s strategy to woo non Marathi voters has clearly won dividends with at least 33 out of its 53 non Marathi candidates winning.
The win in the cities will help control development agendas in these civic bodies and implement projects like the metro, smart cities, some of which can be showcased in the next two years.
“We have done well in all municipal corporations and are likely to emerge as the single largest party in at least 8 cities,’’ said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, attributing this victory to the development plank that has been pursued by the state government.