Five BJP corporators switch sides, Sangli civic body gets NCP mayor
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost some of its power in the Sangli civic body after at least five BJP corporators defected to the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress.
In the mayoral election held on Tuesday, NCP nominee Digvijay Suryavanshi defeated BJP candidate Dhiraj Suryavanshi as five BJP corporators voted in favour of NCP, while other two others abstained from voting.
Congress’ Umesh Patil was elected as deputy mayor.
The result has come as a shock for the BJP as the party had a clear majority in the 78-member civic house of Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation.
The BJP had won 41 members, while the NCP and the Congress had won 15 and 20 seats, respectively, in the corporation polls held in 2018. Two independent candidates also won the polls. Recently, with the death of Congress corporator Haroon Shikalgar, the party’s tally reduced to 19.
Outgoing mayor Geeta Sutar’s term ended on February 21, and polling for the position was held on Tuesday. Digvijay Suryavanshi of the NCP received 39 votes against 37 for BJP’s Dhiraj Suryavanshi.
Ahead of the election, BJP’s seven corporators went incommunicado, creating trouble for the party. The BJP had even sent the rest of the corporators to Goa to prevent the possibility of cross-voting.
This is the second jolt to the BJP in western Maharashtra within two months after the legislative Council elections for Pune division graduates’ constituency held in December last year, in which NCP’s Arun Lad defeated BJP candidate Sangram Deshmukh by a margin of 48,824 votes.
The defeat was embarrassing for the BJP as the seat got vacated after the party’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil was to assembly from the Kothrud constituency in Pune in the 2019 Assembly elections.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said that the BJP is going to be booted out from western Maharashtra and the results of the mayoral election of Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation proves the same. “The result of the Pune graduates’ constituency election was an indication that the BJP is going to be deported from western Maharashtra and today’s mayoral election results proved it. By accepting the MVA, the people of the state have made it clear that the BJP’s “achchhe din” (good days), a slogan used by the BJP during the general election held in 2014, will never come back in Maharashtra,” said Tapase.
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari alleged that the NCP misused power and money for cross-voting. “NCP engineered cross-voting by using power and money as they are desperate to come to power in local bodies. What they tried to do during the recently-held gram panchayat elections has been repeated in the mayoral polls of Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation. We will also be holding an internal probe to ascertain the cause of defeat and take further action accordingly,” said Bhandari.