People celebrate the gram panchayat election results in Bhiwand, on Monday, January 18, 2021. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)
People celebrate the gram panchayat election results in Bhiwand, on Monday, January 18, 2021. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)

Maharashtra gram panchayat polls: BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena, NCP claim victory

Amid claims of victory by all four key parties in Maharashtra, partners in the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi – Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress – won 58% of the 12,711 gram panchayats that went to polls on January 15
By Surendra P Gangan and Pradip Kumar Maitra, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 01:44 AM IST

Amid claims of victory by all four key parties in Maharashtra, partners in the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi – Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress – won 58% of the 12,711 gram panchayats that went to polls on January 15. However, among all parties individually, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won the highest number of gram panchayats, with the Sena a close second. Results of all gram panchayats were not announced till late on Monday and a clear picture is expected by Tuesday morning.

Of the 27,782 gram panchayats (village councils) in the state, 14,432 were due for the elections last year. The elections were postposed owing to the Covid-19 outbreak. The BJP won a little more 2,600 gram panchayats, followed by the Sena, which won 2,570 panchayats of the 11,800 panchayats whose results were declared late on Monday evening. The NCP and Congress bagged 2,400 and 1,825 panchayats respectively, while local panels and independents won over 2,335 panchayats.

A total of 214,880 candidates were in the fray for 125,709 seats, for which 3,56,221 nominations were filed. At least 26,718 members in 1,665 panchayats were elected unopposed. Another 162 panchayats in Gadchiroli will go to polls on January 20.

Though the village panchayat elections are not fought on party symbols, the parties claim the victory on the basis of the local panels formed by the candidates affiliated to them. Some of the panels at the local level claim their affiliations to more than one party. Three ruling parties, however, had announced to fight the elections separately.

Deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, “The voters voted in favour of the MVA. Ruling parties fought in cooperation and it resulted in the combined victory. The Sena, NCP and Congress and their key leaders retained the village panchayats in their stronghold. We have been working on a Common Minimum Program under the leadership of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.”

Environment minister and Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray said the voters of Maharashtra have reaffirmed their trust in the MVA government. “The MVA government has been unitedly working in the interest of the people under the leadership of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, deputy CM Ajit Pawar and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat. The government took cautious decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic and successfully handled it. The state has been marching ahead on many fronts including industrial, environment. The gram panchayat results are the reflection of our performance,” he said.

Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said: “The MVA has won more than 80% panchayats and it reaffirms the trust of the people on the ruling alliance. The voters have stood by us. The BJP’s claims are false as it did not enjoy the support from even the native villages of incumbent state unit chief Chandrakant Patil and former state unit chief and union minister Raosaheb Danve.”

On the other hand, Chandrakant Patil said his party would win more than 6000 village panchayats. “We have won 1,907 of the 7,000 panchayats whose results were declared till 6pm. Our party had won 564 panchayats of 1,665 which were declared elected unopposed. Voters in the state have defeated the ruling parties as they were angry with the government over its failure on handling Covid-19, poor relief to the farmers in distress and at the same time, they had shown faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and development works,” he said.

Patil said that the party won panchayats in the assembly constituencies represented or under influence of its key leaders like Narayan Rane, Raosaheb Danve, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Girish Mahajan, Sudhir Mungantiwar among others.

Significantly, key leaders Chandrakant Patil, Danve, former state minister Ram Shinde, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil could not win the village panchayats in their native villages. In Patil’s native village Khanapur in Kolhapur district, the Shiv Sena won 6 of 9 panchayats, while Ram Shinde’s Chavandi panchayat was won by NCP under the leadership of party MLA and party chief Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew Rohit Pawar. BJP candidates faced defeat in Bhokardan, while Vikhe Patil’s Loni village panchayat went to an independent panel.

Key leaders from the ruling alliance retained their citadel by winning most of the panchayats in their constituencies. Congress’s Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat, NCP’s Dhananjay Munde, Anil Deshmukh, Shiv Sena Shambhuraj Desai, Gulabrao Patil won a majority of the village bodies. Former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan’s constituency Karad recorded defeat of the Congress candidates.

In Nagpur, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) once again stamped its authority in Nagpur district, bagging 73 out of 129-gram panchayat seats. The elections to 12,711 gram panchayats in 34 districts of the state, including Nagpur were held on January 15. The BJP emerged a single largest party, while the Congress and NCP finished second and third, respectively.

In Nagpur, the BJP got 73 seats out of 129, while the MVA candidates bagged 56 seats. However, in Katol assembly constituency, represented by home minister Anil Deshmukh, NCP won 19 out of 20 gram panchayats.

The Congress grabbed 16 out of 17 seats in Patansaongi gram panchayat, the native village of Maharashtra dairy development minister Sunil Kedar. BJP claimed 12 seats while Congress 5 in Koradi gram panchayat, the home of state BJP general secretary and former Maharashtra minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

In Chandrapur, the former Maharashtra minister Sudhir Munganttiwar claimed that the BJP bagged over 55 per cent seats out of 629 gram panchayats in the district. On the other hand, guardian minister of the district Vijay Wadettiwar dismissed the BJP claims and asserted that the Congress obtained around 60% of seats while the BJP got 30% of seats in the elections.

Hirave Bazar panchayat in Ahmednagar district is known for its water conservation efforts taken under its Sarpanch Popatrao Pawar. The village panchayat saw election for the first time in last 30 years. The panchayat was retained by Pawar’s panel. Patoda panchayat in Aurangabad was known for its all round development in 25 years under its sarpanch Bhaskar Pere Patil.

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