With 10 major municipal corporations and 26 zilla parishads (ZPs) facing elections in the next nine months, political parties are set to face a huge challenge before the Assembly polls. With more than 80% of the population in rural and urban areas voting, the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharartiya Janata Party (BJP) government will face a major challenge in the elections, dubbed ‘mini Assembly poll’.
For the BJP, it will be a challenge to make inroads in many areas. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will try to retain their top position.
Of the 26 municipal corporations in the state, 10 including Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nagpur and 26 district councils or zilla parishads out of 33 will hold elections in the next nine months. Besides, more than 200 municipal councils and panchayats governing towns and talukas will have elections before March next year.
Since the elections are being held in the middle of the government’s five-year term, they will be a litmus test for the ruling parties.
The failure to give reservation to Marathas and shepherds in the rural areas, drought situation and discontent of the urban voters over inflation and housing problem may work against the ruling parties. The BJP leaders are hopeful that a good rainfall will improve the drought situation.
“We are prepared for the elections. Our war room in Mumbai is connected to the district-level offices and is monitored regularly. I don’t think there is an anti-incumbency factor against us as has been proved in all the recent civic elections. We are sure we will win the maximum seats,” said Raosaheb Danve, state unit chief of the BJP.
Contrary to the BJP’s claim, the recent Nagar Panchayat elections made the party bite the dust.
“It is true that the ruling parties have an advantage in terms of support from the government machinery and other resources, but we are sure we will retain our top position. The anti-incumbency factor will work against them as they have not fulfilled promises,” said Manikrao Thakre, former state unit chief of Congress.
Political analyst Prakash Bal said the state government has failed to perform on all fronts and it does not have organisational strength and base in major parts of the state.
“It will be a major challenge for the BJP as its performance will reflect in the next Assembly elections and there would be no Modi wave to save the party,” said Bal.
He, however, said the BJP may gain by increasing its seat tally in the local elections as it did in Navi Mumbai and Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation elections.