That Excise Minister, Ganesh Naik, will lead the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to victory in the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) polls was expected, but nobody thought he will do it with a thumping majority.
The NCP won 55 seats. The Sena followed with 16. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got one seat while the Congress won 13.
With the support of three independents, the NCP’s effective strength in the NMMC is 58, almost a two-third majority.
Naik and his son, Sandeep, represent two Assembly segments in Navi Mumbai. Naik is also the guardian minister of Thane district, which Navi Mumbai is a part of. Older son, Sanjeev, is a Member of Parliament from Thane. With control of the NMMC, Naik has little opposition left in the city.
“The people of the city have seen the work we have done in terms of the civic amenities, infrastructure and the abundance of basic necessities like water,” Naik said. “They also know of our future plans, which will make the city a truly 21st century city.”
Naik has managed to beat opposition for two decades. Even his former loyalist, Vijay Chougule, who is now the Shiv Sena chief of the city, could not dent his fortress. Chougule contested as an independent and secured only nine votes.
Builder, Suresh Haware, a political novice also tried his best to topple Naik, but failed.
While the NCP is on a roll, the Congress suffered a major setback. Its tally is down by two from the last polls and it has lost its place as the main opposition party to the Sena.
Some top local Congress leaders suffered defeat. Navi Mumbai Congress President, Namdeo Bhagat, a close associate of Central minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, lost to Sena’s Dilip Ghodekar in Nerul.
Opposition leader Ramakant Mhatre, a confidante of Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, lost to NCP’s, Balkrishna Patil, in Ghansoli.
The Sena-BJP alliance, a first for the civic polls, managed to consolidate its position. Despite more than half of its 14 corporators switching to the NCP, the Sena managed to increase its tally by 13. The BJP managed to win a seat in Turbhe where BJP’s Vijaya Gharat defeated NCP old hand, Babytai Patil.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena failed to make an impact.