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BJP sweeps Mira-Bhayander civic polls, becomes single largest party in Mumbai Metropolitan Region

The Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP in the state has now gained control over 12 of the 17 cities that went to the polls this year.

mumbai Updated: Aug 22, 2017 09:34 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,BJP,Mira-Bhayander municipal elections
BJP workers celebrate after the results.(HT)

Underlining its dominance in urban and semi-urban Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party decimated all opposition to sweep the elections to the Mira-Bhayander civic body bagging 61 of the 95 seats in results declared on Monday. It is now the single largest party in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which accounts for 57 assembly seats spread across Mumbai and eight satellite cities.

In Mira-Bhayander, the Shiv Sena, which ruled the civic body with the BJP but decided to contest separately this time, came a poor second with 22 seats though it was a marginal increase over the previous election’s tally of 14. The Congress ended up with just 10 seats and the NCP couldn’t win even one, a steep fall from 27 seats in 2012. The gainer was the BJP, which more than doubled its tally of 29 seats in 2012.

The Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP in the state has now gained control over 12 of the 17 cities that went to the polls this year. The BJP controls two other civic corporations with the Shiv Sena, Kalyan-Dombivili and Aurangabad, which were among five corporations that went to the polls in 2015.

“Our victory in Mira-Bhayandar is because of the wave of `vishwas and vikas’ created by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and efforts of Team BJP. I promise speedy development. We will live up to the expectations of the people,” said Fadnavis.

The BJP’s growth in the MMR is particularly worrisome for the Sena, which sees the region as its bastion. The Sena has barely managed to hold on to Mumbai, getting just two more seats than the BJP, which did not contest the mayor’s post.

The two parties are in an alliance in Marathi manoos-dominated Kalyan-Dombivli and the Sena has power on its own only in Thane. The BJP on its own runs three civic bodies in the region -- Ulhasnagar, Panvel and now Mira-Bhayander

The Shiv Sena blamed its failure in Mira-Bhayander on the ‘religious propoganda’ by the BJP with Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik saying the party would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission. “We could not reach the tally we expected (45 to 54 seats) largely because of religious propaganda in favour of the BJP and indirectly against us. There was a video that went viral where a Jain leader openly advocated voting for the BJP and in favour of vegetarianism.”

The Jain leader had also highlighted how the BJP in 2015 had decided to impose a meat ban during the community’s festival of Paryushan. The Shiv Sena vehemently opposed the decision.

Sarnaik said the Sena lost in Gujarati-speaking and Hindi-speaking areas and won in Marathi-speaking Koli and Agri dominated wards. The Sena had similarly blamed the polarisation of communities for the results in the Mumbai civic elections with party chief Uddhav Thackeray lamenting that while Marathis stood behind his party, other Hindus failed to do the same.

“The Sena will get increasingly marginalised as the BJP is growing at its cost especially in cities. Even though Uddhav Thackeray is trying to occupy the Opposition space he is not successful in taking this opposition to its strategic conclusion whether in the legislature or the government,” said political analyst Prakash Bal.

But, more than the polarisation of votes between the saffron parties and beyond the election management of the BJP, its winning streak is also a direct result of the lack of a credible Opposition.

“The opposition has failed to build a counter narrative to that of Modi in 2014. This means even if the BJP falls short on governance or its many promises, the Opposition has not been able to shed its own negative image to take advantage of the same. The lack of a credible Opposition gives the BJP its biggest advantage,” added Bal.

(With inputs from Manasi Phadke)

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 09:34 IST