Mumbai: The counting of votes for Dhule and Ahmednagar municipal corporations, which went to polls on Sunday, is scheduled to begin at 10 AM on Monday, December 10. In the Maharashtra civic elections, the former recorded a voter turnout of 60 per cent while the latter registered 67 per cent turnout. The polling, which began at 8 AM and ended at 5 PM, was largely peaceful in both the regions.

The 74-member Dhule and 68-member Ahmednagar civic corporations have a combined voter population of nearly eight lakh. While Dhule has 4.46 lakh voters, there are 3.46 lakh voters in Ahmednagar.

The run-up to the Dhule Municipal Corporation polls was a contentious one with BJP MLA Anil Gote accusing his party of inducting criminals and giving them tickets. Gote has fielded candidates from his local outfit Loksangram against official BJP candidates.

The result of Ahmednagar civic body would be crucial for the Congress and play a decisive role in the political future its leaders, including Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, former minister Balasaheb Thorat and state Youth Congress chief Satyajit Tambe.

In the 70 member Dhule civic body, 34 corporators are from the NCP, 10 from Congress, three from BJP and 11 from Shiv Sena, while the rest are from local outfits and independents. But the number of seats has now been increased to 74. In Ahmednagar, 18 of the 68 member civic body belong to the NCP, 11 Congress, nine BJP, 17 Shiv Sena, four MNS and nine independents.

There are total 27 municipal corporations in Maharashtra. Out of the 25 civic bodies, where elections were held in the last two years, the BJP has emerged as the single largest party in over a dozen of them. A few months ago, it swept the Sangli and Jalgaon municipal corporations amidst the Maratha quota stir.

Speaking to reporters BJP spokesperson Keshav Updhayay had said that his party would win Dhule and Ahmednagar civic bodies based on the performance of the four years of the state government. Talking to PTI, Dhule district Congress president Shyam Saner said his party had joined hands with the NCP, which rules the civic body.

Political observers say that in Dhule, the BJP has poached on 12 sitting NCP corporators and that has brought the party to agree for seat-sharing talks with the Congress. There was no dispute in the seat adjustments, because local leaders of both the parties agreed to cooperate, the observers said.

“Senior Congress leader Rohidas Patil is aspiring for a Lok Sabha ticket from Dhule. His son Kunal is a sitting Congress legislator from Dhule rural, while NCP leader Rajvardhan Kadambande is aspiring for assembly ticket from Dhule city.

“Since all have agreed to co-operate with each other in the assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the two parties hope to give the BJP a tough fight,” a Congress leader told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

The Shiv Sena is fighting independently and there are two groups within the BJP, observers pointed out.

“A section of the BJP resent the rise of state Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, who is the party’s in-charge of North Maharashtra. Local BJP MLA Anil Gote has fielded his own candidates for the civic polls,” observers say.

In Ahmednagar, the BJP is likely to benefit from the weak organisational structure of the Congress, observers said, adding that Congress leaders Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Balasaheb Thorat and Satyajit Tambe, hail from the district and the results of the civic polls will determine their political future.

(Inputs from PTI)