If results of elections to the various municipal councils across the state are any indication, the Anna factor doesn’t seem to have cut much ice with voters in small town Maharashtra. Significantly, even voters in Hazare’s Ahmednagar district have brought in the Congress for four municipal councils.
In the results announced on Wednesday, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have, between them, swept elections to 42 municipal councils. The results of these councils from Western Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha, when added to results of the 133 councils announced earlier, point to a rout of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine.
Of the 42 councils, Congress won 10 councils, while NCP secured seven. The Sena and the BJP managed just one council each.
In Anna Hazare’s Ahmednagar, the Congress won with a clear majority in four councils, and the NCP in two. Forged for certain councils, the Congress-NCP alliance managed one victory, leaving only one council for the opposition.
The results in favour of the Congress and the NCP are significant when viewed against the backdrop of campaigns led by the opposition on sugarcane and cotton prices, and corruption.
“We have managed to do well despite negative campaigns against us. It shows that Anna Hazare’s campaign has not affected political parties and that when it comes to voting, the mandate is for the ruling alliance,’’ said rural development minister and senior NCP leader Jayant Patil.
The NCP managed to do well in its bastion of western Maharashtra and won councils in strongholds such as Sangli from where the party’s big guns like rural development minister Jayant Patil and home minister RR Patil hail from.
The NCP also did well in Osmanabad district of Marathwada, wresting the council of Tuljapur from Congress, the home turf of animal husbandary minister Madhukar Chavan. The Congress did retain its strong seats in western Maharashtra, while performing well in Vidarbha and Marathwada. At 251, it has won the maximum number of seats in this round, followed by 190 of the NCP.
Political analysts said the role of local party workers and leaders assumed importance in these elections, making issues like corruption less relevant.
“Anna’s anti corruption movement as well as Raju Shetti’s agitation for sugarcane farmers proved irrelevant in these polls. That’s largely because in these polls, the show is run by local heavyweights and is centred around extremely local issues,’’ said Surendra Jondhale, political analyst.
He added, “Both the Congress and the NCP contested separately giving a free run to their local cadre. The results would not have been the same had they contested as an alliance.”
Local fronts cobbled by independent legislators and leaders have also fared well in these polls.