Nagpur, Feb 20: With battle lines drawn clearly and campaigning guns silenced totally, Maharashtra readies to witness a mini-battle of ballots for the ten municipal corporations including the most prestigious Brihan-Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations on Tuesday.
In addition to these, the other six corporations are Amravati, Akola, Nasik, Sholapur, Ulhasnagar, and Thane Municipal corporations that will go to the polls on Tuesday along with 15 Zilla Parishad in the state.
The elections to these local bodies are seen as a referendum on the policies of development adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis in the state since past two and half years.
The campaigning pitch was very shrill most of the times stooping down to the lowest possible level by the very senior politicians like Sharad Pawar who was recently honoured with ‘Padma Vibhushan award by the Modi government.
However, the most interesting were the break-up of BJP and Shiv Sena who had been partners in politics since last 25 years. The Shiv Sena broke away from its partner BJP on the ground of being neglected by the BJP after the 2014 elections. The BJP wanted more share in the BMC on the basis of 2014 Lok Sabha leads and Shiv Sena was adamant on not recognising that the BJP has increased its political strength and clout.
What happened after the break-up was sheer mud-slinging at each other in most shrill voice and violating all norms of civilian democracy. The Sena leaders were of course at the forefront in launching a tirade against the BJP. The Congress and NCP are contesting this election for their political survival.
Internal squabbling and factionalism were very well visible with the unprecedented rebellion in all the parties by the hopeful candidates. The BJP was worst hit by internal rebellion with most of its rebels coming from the RSS background.
However, the BJP stands better chances of victory because of the aggressive and positive campaign by the young, energetic and dynamic chief minister Devendra Fadanvis and union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari. Both of them traversed the state from Thane to Nagpur and Sholapur to Amravati to campaign for their party candidates. Besides, the other parties do not match the political strength and acumen of the BJP to unseat the party from the local bodies.
Nagpur has been under BJP rule for three consecutive terms and there is the most likelihood of the party repeating for the fourth time. The main interesting battle is in BMC. Mumbai civic body has been the proverbial ‘milch cow’ for Shiv Sena. The party was in power all along. But the economic capital of India lacks in development aspects. The BJP has hit upon this lacuna of the Shiv Sena rule to turn the popular vote to its side.
Elaborate arrangements were done and security measures were taken by the election commission to ensure free and fair polling without fear and favour. The results will be announced on February 23.