Since the October 2014 Maharashtra Assembly election, BJP has won countless elections in corporations, councils, zilla parishads, panchayats and gram panchayats.
But the BJP juggernaut has come to a shuddering halt in Nanded, where the Congress retained power.
The credit for this goes entirely to senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan.
The Nanded Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC) has been a Congress stronghold for the past two decades.
It is the home constituency of Ashok Chavan, who is an MP.
As per early results, the Congress will continue its hold on the 81-seat corporation.
The votes began being counted at 10 am.
By 6.30 pm, the Congress won 69 seats, whereas the BJP and Shiv Sena won six and one seats respectively. One seat was won by an independent candidate. The results have been declared for 77 out of 81 seats.
This election is a matter of pride for both Ashok Chavan and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and a high stakes battle between the Congress and BJP.
Fadnavis was the BJP's star campaigner in Nanded, attended a rally before the end of the campaign where he attacked Chavan and the Shiv Sena. Fadnavis accused the Shiv Sena of being the Congress' B team in Nanded and urged the voters to entrust him and the BJP with the development of Nanded.
The BJP told voters that voting for the Shiv Sena was akin to a vote for the Congress as the two parties ruled the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation polls.
But it seems as if the voters decided to stick with Chavan.
MLA DP Sawant, close aide of Ashok Chavan, told Firstpost that there was anger on social media against the BJP, which the Congress was able to tap into.
"The Muslim community, which seemed to shy away from us during the last election, has returned to the fold," he said.
In the 2012 Nanded election, Congress won 41 out of 81 seats and the Shiv Sena secured 12 seats. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) won 11 seats, the NCP won 10 seats and the BJP won only two seats.
But these results, which are a setback for the BJP and the Shiv Sena are especially painful for the NCP and the AIMIM. NCP and AIMIM could not open their account.
It looks like the AIMIM, which tied up with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), failed to even nab one seat, despite Muslims and Dalits making up more than 40 percent of Nanded's urban population.
But urban voters, including Dalits and Muslims, seemed to flock to the Congress.
The BJP, the ruling party in the state and Centre, attempted to use all tactics to gain control of the corporation: From deploying Fadnavis to lead their election campaign to using local Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Patil Chikhalikar, who switched to the BJP and was seen openly campaigning for the saffron party.
Ashok Chavan told Firstpost that the Congress victory meant that voters decided to stand with development instead of empty promises.
"I am thankful to the voters who trusted the Congress. We will never betray their confidence. The results will boost the morale of the party and workers, who will continue to toil hard for future elections," Chavan said.
"Voters have seen through the BJP's promises of achche din. I am very happy that we've stopped the BJP in its tracks," Chavan added.
While these results are a setback for the BJP and Fadnavis, they can take heart from the by-elections in Mumbai, Kolhapur and Nagpur won by BJP candidates.
Five hundred and seventy-eight candidates contested the NWMC election. Sixty percent of 3.96 lakh voters turned out to vote on Wednesday.
Published Date: Oct 12, 2017 03:05 pm | Updated Date: Oct 12, 2017 07:53 pm