Mumbai, Nov 29 : BJP’s victory in the first phase of the civic polls in Maharashtra has come as a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who can now more tenaciously take on the Opposition as well as ally Shiv Sena. The polls are being considered a litmus test for Fadnavis, who led the BJP campaign to make inroads in the rural areas where Congress and NCP hold sway, and have been keenly watched as they are being held post demonetisation.

The results of 164 civic bodies, declared yesterday, are also seen by political observers as a sign of the ruling party firming its grip on the semi-urban and rural parts of the state. It belied hopes of the Congress and NCP to cash in on the fallout of note scrapping on the rural economy and small trade as well as the campaign by the Maratha community for quota in jobs and education. The Congress and NCP leaders however have sought to put up a brave face holding that this was “just the first round” of the multi-phased elections and hundreds of civic bodies across the state are yet to go to polls.

Some of them also put the blame on failure to work out a coherent alliance at the grassroots against the saffron party, which launched a spirited campaign led by Fadnavis. As the results started pouring in BJP’s favour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last evening termed the outcome as a “win for pro-poor and development politics of BJP.” Modi also lauded Fadnavis and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve for the party’s performance in the grass-roots level electoral exercise, held in the backdrop of the demonetisation move. In response to Modi’s tweet, Fadnavis said, “Thanks Sir! You inspired confidence in people that our Nation is transforming.

Mandate shows Maharashtra is with your vision of transparency.” Significantly, the results could also have an impact on the crucial Mumbai Municipal polls slated in early next year. The BMC, as the largest and the richest urban civic body is known in local parlance, has been controlled by Shiv Sena for quiet a long time and there is speculation on whether the two saffron parties would forge an alliance this time as well. Mumbai BJP leaders voiced confidence of repeating the success in upcoming rounds of polls not only in other parts of the state but in the megapolis as well.

Amarjeet Mishra, General Secretary of the Mumbai BJP, said, “BJP has swept the first phase of municipal council polls and undoubtedly we are going to repeat the same in Mumbai.” “Our party has done immense work at grass-roots level such as pushing forward coastal road, Metro corridors which are directly being monitored by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has emerged as Vikas Purush of Maharashtra,” he added.