Mumbai, Nov 28: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has performed in an impressive manner in the recently conducted municipal council and nagar panchayat elections in Maharashtra. In the post-demonetisation polls, the saffron party has emerged as the number one electoral choice of voters. BJP has come out as the single-largest political force in the civic body elections. It has also outmatched its Maharashtra centric ally Shiv Sena.

By the time this report was first published, BJP had been officially declared winner of 50 of the 147 municipal councils contested. Congress, which had unprecedented base in rural Maharashtra, is trailing behind BJP. Congress has been declared winner at 24 seats. Shiv Sena was leading on 25 seats, whereas, NCP trailed behind at 14.

In terms of seats

Results have officially been declared in 2,501 seats of the municipal councils and nagar panchayats. BJP has won 610 of the 2501 seats. Shiv Sena bagged 402 seats, Congress on on 408. Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has performed in an embarrassing manner, winning merely 12 of the 2,501 seats contested. Pro-Muslim All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has outperformed MNS, winning a total of 18 seats.

BJP’s growing stature in Maharashtra

In the nagar panchayat and municipal council elections conducted between January-June 2016, a total of of 433 seats were contested in 25 different polls. BJP was on the 4th position, having won only 38 seats. Congress was victorious on 125, whereas NCP and Shiv Sena bagged 93 and 77 respectively. In the fresh round of polls conducted six months later, BJP has emerged as the single-largest political force. Pollsters credit the success to the extensive campaign by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with the grassroot work by BJP volunteers.

Did demonetisation played a factor in BJP’s impressive victory?

The local elections were conducted in rural and semi-urban belts of the nation. Demonetisation has largely caused inconvenience in these regions where number of banks and ATM counters is few. However, one should not ignore that civic elections are contested on hyper-local issues where matters pertaining to sanitation, roads, pathways, public toilets, schools, playgrounds, transport and other issues make up the mind of voters. Even if there is an anguish against demonetisation, it is directed against Centre. In an extremely localised polls as such, the candidate matters more than the party or ideology backing him.