Who is the Real Winner in the Maharashtra Local Body Polls?

Independents with 864 have garnered many more votes than the BJP’s 851 (out of 3,706 seats) and the Congress-NCP tally, if seen together is 84 seats behind the BJP and Shiv Sena’s

Despite the uncritical media hype that gives the reader a blinkered view of the poll outcome in  the recently conducted local Nagarpalika elections in the Maharashtra, it is not the BJP that is the real winner, but Independents who have garnered the highest number of seats at 864 out of a total of the 3706 seats contested, and won.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) has certainly garnered the second highest number of seats at 851, the Congress with 643 seats and the NCP with 638 lag behind the BJP and Shiv Sena only by 84 total seats. The Shiv Sena has won 514 seats. Of the total municipal councils in the state, however, the BJP has captured the mayoral/president post in 52 councils; Independents have won in 28 while the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP have won in 23, 19 and 16 councils respectively.

These results (detailed below) in no way show a BJP sweep nor an endorsement for de-monetization, regardless of the social media hype generated by team Modi, the prime minister and his ministers.

In fact the real winners in these polls appear clearly to be the ‘Others’ that include outfits like the Kaku Nana Aghadi, Sthanik Vikas Aghadi, Shahu Vikas Aghadi and Yuva Kranti Aghadi. Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has also consolidated some of its support base in Maharashtra by winning some seats in Shahada, Nanurdbar district and Beed where counting of votes is still underway.According to the preliminary reports, the AIMIM has won 04 seats in Shahada – a small town near Dhule in North Maharashtra.Preliminary reports also said that the AIMIM has won 10 seats in Beed district. The AIMIM has also won 02 seats in Buldana civic polls. In Malkapur, the AMIM won elections in 06 wards. The controversial AIMIM, a party based in Hyderabad, had earlier won civic elections in Nanded and Aurangabad. The party also won two seats in 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls. Shahada Nagar Palika has a total of 27 seats. Here the Congress has won on 11 seats, BJP on 10 seats and the NCP has won 01 seat. Against this number, the AIMIM with 04 seats will play important role in electing the president in the Shahada Municipal Council.

In what is likely to additionally unfold as a major controversy, and emerge, if properly investigated, into an outrightly illegal or corrupt poll practice, the mass circulation Loksatta reported that at the local level, the ruling BJP, by giving allegedly irregular concessions for recovery of older Rs500 and Rs 1,000 notes by municipal councils from voters, ensured that these bodies got their coffers filled and that simultaneously the voters were kept in good grace. Using the services of non-governmental organisations, recipts of taxes paid were given freely to voters ensuring that this cycle, however irregular, was complete. A senior leader of the party reportedly told the newspaper in confidence (requesting anonymity) that it was these concessions that worked for the party.

Raj Thackeray, chief of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has been quoted as saying that the ‘victory of the BJP in the local polls is not the victory of de-monetization but the victory of old notes!!” Whatever that means!

Besides, barely ten days ago, on November 17,  in local body elections in Panvel on the outskirts of Mumbai, held soon after de-monetization, the APMC Panvel cost the ruling BJP all 17 seats. The Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) won 15 seats, while Congress and Shiv Sena registered victory on one seat each in the Panvel APMC polls. Notably, Congress won an APMC seat after 25 years. The Panvel APMC election results were announced on November 14. With the BJP losing all 17 seats in the Panvel APMC polls, questions were then raised whether the demonetisation move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the inconvenience to common man followed by the sudden decision didn’t go down well for the BJP.

At that time, sections of the meda had commented, “In a blow for the BJP, the saffron party faced defeat on all the 17 seats of the APMC polls. PWP, Shiv Sena and Congress contested election making an alliance and it worked out too. While the PWP bagged 15 seats, Shiv Sena and Congress won one seat each. “BJP lost all 17 seats in Panvel APMC election. These traders used to be their votes bank. Beginning of the end,” tweeted Preeti Sharma Menon, National Executive Member of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).”

In Gujarat local body elections held a few days back, results of which came in today, the ruling BJP has recorded its continuing popularity. Days ago it had lost to the Congress in the Unjha local council, however.

Results of the Nagarpalika Polls, from Lokmat



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