Democratic Front miles ahead of saffron combine
The overall verdict is in favour of the Democratic Front alliance, report Ketki Ghoge and Sanjeev Shivadekar.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress were way ahead of the opposition Shiv Sena and BJP in the results for 165 municipal councils, governing urban and semi-urban areas.
In the results declared on Monday, the overall verdict went in favour of the Democratic Front (DF) alliance. Beating the anti-incumbency factor, the alliance that contested independently has stood its ground, indicating bad innings for the saffron alliance.
By Monday evening, the results of 45 councils and 929 seats were declared - NCP won 351, Congress 291, Sena 147 and BJP won 83 seats.
In 45 councils, the NCP won 19, Congress 11 while Sena-BJP took control of three.
Going by the early trends, it is quite clear that the NCP led by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has consolidated its base in urban and semi-urban areas by winning maximum civic bodies. It will be close fight between NCP and Congress for supremacy in the State. Townships like Khopoli, Mahad, Panvel which are part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have voted in favour of NCP.
Sunday's election was the first phase of elections to municipal and rural bodies across the State, being referred as mini-assembly elections in political circles.
And if the trend is any indication, it will realign state's political map. Both Congress and NCP largely contested separately. The Congress is still a force to reckon with but the NCP has emerged as an equally strong political party. This means the NCP will in future pose itself as the party parallel to Congress.
Also, Congress' efforts to rope in leaders like Narayan Rane has proved beneficial for the party as it won remarkably in Konkan and some other parts, which were Sena strongholds.
Ironically, both the parties claimed that they topped the list.
'It shows that Congress is at the top in Maharashtra and the people have supported the initiatives taken by us," declared Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh (Congress).
Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil (NCP) said: "The results have proved that NCP is not the party with just rural base, it also now has an urban identity."
The early results, however, is a bad news for the saffron combine. It contested the elections as an alliance but did not do well. Shiv Sena lost control of several municipal bodies in Konkan including Khed, hometown of Opposition Leader Ramdas Kadam who sent his resignation to party executive president Uddhav Thackeray. Despite its claims that it was a strong force, BJP finished fourth.
Raj Thackeray's nascent Maharashtra Navnirman Sena did not spring major upsets but it managed to show its presence in certain pockets. It opened its innings in the state with 28 seats in these polls. Thackeray told HT that his party had just opened its innings in state politics and would soon expand its base all over the State.