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Maharashtra Civic Elections Results: The writing on the wall

The results of the hotly contested Maharashtra civic elections are pouring in as we speak, even as most results have firmed up. The results include those of some key cities like the financial capital of India, Mumbai, RSS bastion Nagpur and also of Pune, among other local bodies. Further, these elections saw a split in the ranks of the saffron forces, with Shiv Sena openly baying for BJP’s blood and vice versa.

According to psephology company CVoter, the final results for BMC i.e the Corporation which runs Mumbai, look like this:

Minor variations aside, this seems to be the final picture and it is clear that the city has rejected Congress and NCP. Shiv Sena, which had more than double the seats which BJP had in 2012, now has a slender lead of just 3-odd seats, thanks to a paltry growth of 9 seats, which is less than 10%. BJP on the other hand has zoomed to 81 from 31 seats, an increase of more than 250%.

BMC result throws an Odisha like picture, where the incumbent Sena has held its own, BJP has grown, and the opposition consisting of Congress and NCP among others has been blown away to smithereens. The Congress Mukt Bharat dream of BJP seems to be materialising.

Uddhav Thakeray has at least settled one debate: He can today claim that he is truly the rightful heir of Balasaheb Thakeray, since his cousin Raj Thakeray’s party has been left down in the dumps. This is the first BMC election led by Uddhav without the guidance of his father and he seems to have done a good job of rallying the cadre around him, ensuring that the Sena doesn’t wilt.

But if he looks beyond Mumbai, then the situation is bleak. The BJP has emerged out of the shadows of Big Brother Sena, and now is increasingly looking like the Big Brother itself. Come next assembly elections, the Sena will have yet another tough time in handling BJP’s seat demands, and we may end up seeing a repeat of the last elections.

Maharashtra CM Fadnavis can take heart from the fact that he has managed to increase BJP’s tally substantially in a city famed for its loyal Shiv Sena cadre. It must also be noted that because BMC elections clashed with the much bigger Uttar Pradesh elections, Fadnavis had to battle it out alone without much help from either BJP’s star campaigner PM Narendra Modi, or BJP’s master strategist Amit Shah. Fadnavis has emerged as the tallest leader in Maharashtra, and indeed western India. The favourable performance will add to his weight and will give him the confidence to deal with Shiv Sena with a tougher hand.

But there is more to Maharashtra than just Mumbai. The BJP has emerged victorious with a simple majority or just close to simple majority in places such as Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Nashik and Nagpur. The only setback for BJP can be considered to be the results in Beed, the constituency of Women and Child welfare Development Minister for Maharashtra, Pankaja Munde.

The dynamics of Sena-BJP both at centre and at the state will be interesting now. The Sena would overall be dejected that the BJP has trumped then in most locations and has managed to rise to unimaginable strengths in BMC. Before the elections, Shiv Sena had offered BJP a mere 60 seats, if they went in together for the polls. Now it appears neither of them can take control of BMC unless they ally together, or with the likes of Congress, or engineer a majority by horse-trading.

As for the rest, Congress needs to do some soul-searching for its disastrous performance. State after state it is being routed and is ceding ground to other parties especially BJP. There needs to be a bottom up rethinking of all the processes, the political positions it takes and the campaign strategies to ensure that they learn from this debacle

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Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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