Richest Civic Body In India
While the state legislative assembly elections in UP and the terse political situation in Tamil Nadu are hogging much of the media space, an epic battle of a different kind is unfolding in the country’s financial capital – Mumbai. Both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena are locked in a small but significant struggle for dominance of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The BMC elections are held in 227 wards in the city.
Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena, allies for over a couple of decades, are pitted against each other in the BMC elections. Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena supremo has been very vocal in his criticism of PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation call. His views of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’ administration, too, have been less than pleasant.
Through the early part of Thursday, February 23, 2017, Shiv Sena was set to sweep the elections of India’s richest civic body in its favour. To gain an absolute majority, the party required 114 seats. As the counting was about halfway done, BJP started to pick up pace. Here is the ultimate tally of seats in the BMC elections:
Shiv Sena – 84
Bharatiya Janata Party – 81
Indian National Congress – 31
Nationalist Congress Party – 9
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena – 7
All India Majlis E Ittehad Ul Muslimeen – 3
Others (including Independents) – 11
While none of the parties have an absolute majority, it seems certain that Shiv Sena with 84 seats will put forward the candidate for the Mayor’s office. It is a distinct possibility that the Sena leaders will try to win over some of the independents and perhaps even the MNS, to hand it the reigns of the BMC. While many are predicting a Shiv Sena – BJP alliance, we are not sure if the two will be able to work out their differences and return to being a cohesive united force.
Twist In The Tale
In what seemed to be no less exciting than a Bollywood thriller, the results of the elections in Ward 220 were settled by a lottery. You heard that right!
Ward 220 covers the JJ hospital, Null Bazar, Bhendi Bazar and Panjrapole areas. With almost 12,000 votes cast in the ward, the contest between Shiv Sena contestant Surendra Bagalkar and his rival from the BJP, Atul Shah, promised to be a close one. An initial vote count led officials to believe that Bagalkar had won, albeit by a very narrow margin of 3 votes.
Shah then demanded a recount. Officials ended up recounting the votes thrice only to find that both the Shiv Sena and BJP candidates had won 5,946 votes each. Many tense moments followed as the two were joined by senior politicians of both parties.
To settle the stalemate, the commissioner of the BMC, Ajoy Mehta headed to the counting centre. Following the municipal corporation’s election procedure, the winner was decided by a lottery. The names of both candidates were written on chits and the winner’s name was drawn by a 7 year old girl.