Congress Sweeps Civic Polls in Maharashtra Stronghold, BJP Distant Second

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Nanded (Maharashtra), Oct 12 (IANS) The ruling Congress on Thursday notched early gains in the Nanded-Waghala City Municipal Corporation (NWCMC) polls in Maharashtra, leading in at least 28 out of the 81 seats. The by-poll in Ward no 116 of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been necessitated due to the death of Congress corporator Pramila Patil, who passed away due to a heart attack on April 25. The BJP had managed only four and the Shiv Sena was reduced to a single seat. He however dismissed the argument that the Nanded civic poll results will have any impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Chavan, who is the state Congress chief, attributed the party's win to non-tampering of EVMs and claimed that the BJP's "return journey" has started. Chavan led the campaign from the front and took a calculated risk by refusing to ally with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari termed the results as "victory for Ashok Chavan and not the Congress".

"The Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and Shiv Sena President (Uddhav Thackeray) personally held so many election rallies". The BJP, on an upswing in Maharashtra since its big wins in the 2014 national and state elections, hoped to change that. It has since consolidated its position in elections to municipal councils, zilla parishad and municipal corporations.

The Congress not only retained hold over the NWCMC but also hugely improved its tally compared to 2012 when it had secured 41 seats, proving a major morale booster for the party reeling under a saffron onslaught. In 2012 the BJP had 2 seats. Shiv Sena stood second with 14 seats while BJP managed to bag only two seats.

"The entire Muslim vote in Nanded has come back to the Congress party". While Congress, BJP and Shiv Sena contested the poll, MNS chose to sit out.

A BJP spokesperson, requesting anonimity, admitted that the strategy to "import leaders from other parties had backfired big time in Nanded".

Ashok Chavan's brother-in-law Bhaskar Khatgaokar had left the party to join BJP during 2014.

There are 81 seats across 20 civic wards of the NWMC.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which tried hard to dislodge the Congress from Nanded, is ahead of its rivals on just 01 seat. The BJP already rules the Pune and Nagpur municipal corporations.

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