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BJP sweeps Mira-Bhayander civic polls, Sena ups tally

21 August, 2017 7:31 PM
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Congress loses nine seats to wind up with 10, NCP scores duck; Opposition alleges wrongdoing by govt. officials in polling booths, bogus voters

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) registered a resounding victory in the elections to the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC), results to which were declared on Monday, winning 61 of the 94 seats in the civic body. In the 2012 polls, the party had won 29 seats. The Shiv Sena, its coalition partner in the State and Central governments, and apparently its main rival in this election, increased its 2012 tally of 14 seats to 22 this time.

There was bad news for Congress and NCP as counting of votes ended: the Congress managed only 10 seats, down from its 2012 tally of 19. The NCP, which had given the BJP close competition in the previous elections by winning 27 seats, was decimated this time around and failed to open its account.

The BJP also made history of sorts when it became the first party to ensure single-party rule since the civic body’s formation. It had fielded candidates in 90 seats, leaving four for ally Republican Party of India (RPI). The Shiv Sena had contested all 94 seats. The BJP’s run-up to the election saw star campaigners, including Central Ministers and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. It was also helped by the cosmopolitan demography of twin suburbs.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis commended party workers on Twitter, saying, “Congratulations to leaders&karyakartas for spectacular win! I thank people of #MiraBhayandar for having faith in us! I assure speedy devpt”. At an election rally on Friday, two days before the election, Mr. Fadnavis had promised more funds for developing infrastructure here, under the Modi government’s promise to develop smart cities and houses for the urban poor.

In what could be the start of a fresh round of controversy, the Mira-Bhayander Congress alleged there was “large-scale misutilisation of Election Commission machinery” in these polls.

The Congress also alleged that in certain polling booths, government officials monitoring them were guiding the less-educated to press the button next to BJP’s lotus symbol.

Mr. Hussain said, “But the funny part is even the Shiv Sena stalwarts lost in their wards, which they had been representing since many years. They lost to candidates whom local residents don’t even know. This is an election for a local self-government, and not the Central government, so people usually vote for candidates they know. This time, results show that non-Marathi candidates have won by huge margins in Marathi-dominated wards. This is possible only when there is connivance of officials.”

The BJP rubbished the allegations. “We approached the voter with development as our main agenda,” says Suryakant Bhoir, a winning BJP candidate from a ward he is representing for the first time. He says voters not knowing him didn’t make a difference. “Voters have seen development work done by Modiji and Devendra Fadnavis, so they voted for us.”

Denying that the party had sought votes on the basis of community and caste, Mr. Bhoir said, “There were some rumours that the Jain monks were speaking for us, but that is not true.” Mr. Hussain, however, insists the Jain monks have all but become BJP spokespersons, which asked for votes on community lines.


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