Mumbai, Nov 29: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday emerged as the biggest gainer after Maharashtra Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat election results were declared. In the first election post Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive, the BJP emerged as the first choice of voters, winning 851 seats across 164 urban local bodies, making inroads into the traditional strongholds of Congress and NCP. The saffron party also outmatched its Maharashtra ally, Shiv Sena in the Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat polls. Elections were held for 3,705 seats spread over the 147 Municipal Councils and 17 Nagar Panchayats.

In a boost for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP won 851 seats in the Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat elections. Congress came at second winning 643 seats, while the NCP bagged 638 seats. Shiv Sena won 514, MNS 16, BSP 9, unrecognised parties 119, local coalitions 384, CPM 12 and Independents 324 seats. In the last elections, BJP tally was 298, Sena 264, Congress 771 and NCP 916. Of the 147 municipal councils, where municipal chiefs were elected directly, BJP nominees won at 52 places, compared to the around half a dozen places, where that party held the civic chief’s posts in these bodies.

The victory of the BJP in sub-urban areas of Maharashtra is a major setback for Congress and NCP. The sub-urban areas are always considered stronghold of Congress and NCP. CM Devendra Fadnavis termed the outcome ‘overwhelming’ and said, “We won because of the blessings of Shivaji Maharaj and people’s faith in us.”

The Maharashtra Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat elections were being seen as acid test for the BJP post-demonetization drive that has caused major inconvenience to common man. The results suggest the BJP has not only made inroads into rural areas that have traditionally backed the opposition Congress and NCP, but also received support of people over currency ban.

Taking note of BJP’s performance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve for the “grassroot level work”. “I laud BJP Karyakartas, CM @Dev_Fadnavis & @raosahebdanve. Their grassroot level work ensured people place their valued trust in BJP,” Modi said. “I thank people of Maharashtra for placing their faith in BJP in local body polls. This is a win for pro-poor & development politics of BJP,” the PM tweeted.