[dropcap]M[/dropcap]aharashtra Municipal Council elections gave a mixed verdict, whereas BJP performed well in traditional Congress, NCP strongholds in second phase of polls, and in the first phase of it the saffron party was much ahead of all. Still, we cannot say these results were in favour of demonetization. One cannot gauge the people’s feeling through local bodies’ election. Most of its results depend on local issues and individual. These elections are totally based on one to one relation and pay perks and understanding of locals.
The polling to elect 324 councillors and 14 municipal council presidents in Latur and Pune districts was held on Wednesday, with 72.18 per cent voters exercising their franchise. The phase II of Maharashtra Municipal Council elections was scheduled on Thursday. After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came out with flying colours in the first phase of the local polls, the party aimed to further consolidate their dominance in the state but NCP and Congress independently stood strong against them. The fourteen municipal councils are constituted by a total of 324 seats. The polling was held on December 14.
The total number of candidates in the fray is reported to be 1,184 and about 8 per cent of the total candidates in the fray were crorepatis. Based upon the analysis of Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Maharashtra Election Watch, 96 of the total candidates have declared their assets above Rs. 1 crore. The richest candidate was Raju Tukaram Bhosale, contesting from Shirur Municipal Council. He has declared total assets of Rs. 16 crores, out of which Rs. 15.8 crores is constituted by fixed assets. Interestingly, the rich-poor gap was evidently on display after analysing the value of assets declared by candidates in the fray. 294 candidates have declared their total assets below Rs. 2 lakhs. Fifty one candidates were also found with zero assets. The average assets of candidates across both Latur and Pune district is Rs. 39 lakh.
In terms of demography, 390 candidates were found to be in the age bracket of 31- 40, as per the analysis of ADR and Maharashtra Election Watch. In the 41-50 age brackets, 298 candidates were found. From the young age group of 21 to 24, sixty three candidates were contesting. On the other hand, eight candidates had contested from the old age group of 71-80.
These elections were fought by BJP- SS in alliance while Congress and NCP fought separately. Even then seats of NCP-Congress combined are equal to BJP-SS if you take both phases together. This is total reverse verdict if compared with 2014 assembly polls results when BJP-SS had won 70 per cent seats despite fighting separately, thus we can say that BJP is losing grip in Maharashtra due to demonetization. However, media failed to present the correct analysis.
In the second phase of elections BJP bagged 5 council president seats out of 14 seats in Latur and Pune districts. The saffron party won 89 seats out of 335 that is less than 30%. In the last election BJP’s percentage was 15. Baramati was a clean swipe for NCP as all 35 seats were won by them. AIMIM gave a tough fight to BJP. BJP won municipal council president posts in Lonavala, Talegaon-Dabhade and Alandi (in Pune district) and Udgir and Nilanga (in Latur district).
Congress bagged two municipal council president seats in Indapur and Jejuri (both in Pune district), NCP won Baramati (Pune district) and Ausa (Latur district). Shiv Sena won Junnar municipal council president seat in Pune district. While Daund municipal council president seat in Pune district went to an Independent, three seats in Saswad, Shirur (both in Pune district) and Udgir (in Latur district) were won by ‘Janmat Vikas Agadi’, ‘Shahar Vikas Aghadi’, and ‘Bahujan Vikas Aghadi’, respectively. The BJP, which had emerged as the top grosser in first round of local bodies polls, was pushed to second position with 81 seats, followed by Congress (45), Shiv Sena (23), Independents (26), AIMIM (6), while others, including unrecognised parties (36) and local ‘aghadis’ or fronts (14). Sharad Pawar-led NCP scored an edge over the BJP in the second phase of municipal council polls held in two districts of Maharashtra – Pune and Latur. NCP bagged 93 seats out of 324. Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena drew a blank in all seats. While the BJP put up an impressive performance in Pune district, the NCP demonstrated its supremacy in Pawar’s home turf Baramati, retaining the municipal council as well as the post of its president. This 2nd phase of local body election was heavily weighted in favour of NCP. Majority of seats were from Pune district which at local level is fiefdom of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. So, it is not surprising that Pune district pushed NCP to number one in this relatively small 2nd phase. However, BJP has significantly gained in both 1st and 2nd phase combined.
In municipal corporations and councils, Congress/NCP was having undisputed supremacy with SS and BJP relegated to 3rd and 4th positions. Things are changing now in Maharashtra, in the same way as it was changed in Gujarat about a decade ago. ‘Congress mukt Bharat’ can never be materializing; it’s just a political propaganda. During Congress reign, same slogan was coined by Jan Sangh but later could manage to win only two parliamentarian seats after renaming the party as BJP and was wiped out in almost all states and municipalities. Congress mukt Bharat is not achievable.
Anyways, two more phases of elections will give clear picture and correct analysis about demonetisation.