MVA gains, but BJP may emerge as largest party in Maha panchayat polls
As counting for gram panchayat elections got underway on Monday, partners in the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi — Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress — won 58% of the 12,711 seats that went to polls on January 15. However, among all parties individually, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the highest number, with the Sena a close second. Results of all seats 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 deferred owing to the Covid-19 outbreak. The BJP won about 2,600 gram panchayats, followed by the Sena, which won 2,570 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. 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. While the BJP announced its victory, the MVA parties declared that the number of panchayats won by them together was much higher than the BJP.
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 have reaffirmed their trust in the MVA government.
However, BJP’s Chandrakant Patil said his party would win more than 6,000 panchayats. “We have won 1,907 of the 7,000 panchayats whose results were declared till 6pm...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.
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