PMC Election 2017: BJP's victory in Pune was unprecedented but not unpredictable

BJP's victory in the Pawar bastion during the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) elections can be notched as one of its biggest victories ever. After the 'shat pratishad' BJP (100 percent BJP) victory in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, BJP wins the Pune civic body elections for the first time ever.

This election election season, we saw a face-off between NCP and BJP. But as the counting started, BJP took the lead on a majority of seats clearing the picture of its victory in the first few hours.

This is considered to be a big setback for the NCP-Congress alliance which ruled the civic body for the past 15 years. So what is the reason for their victory? Is it anti-incumbency? Or has BJP ridden on the Modi wave one more time?

BJP had strategically started planning for this victory before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. They were campaigning for Lok Sabha elections but the target always seemed to be the civic body elections. They had systematically activated the RSS cadre and their old-timers in the city. The first victory came with BJP candidate Anil Shirole winning the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP wave swept away NCP and Congress by winning all eight seats during the legislative assembly polls.

Representational image. Image courtesy: Prachee Kulkarni

Representational image. Image courtesy: Prachee Kulkarni

When the BJP came to power in Maharashtra, the Pune unit started focusing on the civic issues, campaigning against the NCP-Congress rule in the civic body. Agitations on various issues followed. Whether it was targeting the civic body over the failure of the BRTS project or the decision to appoint a three-member committee for the development plan for the city, BJP started ticking-off issues one by one.

They then started addressing problems in the city. Pune's guardian minister Girish Bapat tried resolving the issue of garbage, dumping ground by addressing a series of meetings with the protesting villagers. Then the long pending Pune metro proposal got the Centre's nod with PM Narendra Modi attending the ground breaking ceremony. Ground survey work for Pune metro began right before the elections. Traffic is the biggest problem for Pune-ites who prefer commuting by private vehicles due to the lack of a proper public transport. Hoardings of ongoing work for Pune metro seemed to have created an impact.

Pune airport at Purandar also got the nod ahead of the elections. Even when faced with strong opposition from the local villagers, the leaders made it a point to keep re-iterating that the work for Pune airport will commence soon.

Riverfront development project, decision to buy new buses and approval for development plan were announced one by one ahead of elections. Pune even came in first for their proposal in Narendra Modi's smart city project.

Development agenda was their prime focus. Their manifesto focused on these issues. Completion of projects that were already approved and were in the pipeline was their only agenda. They even announced a committee to ensure the implementation of their manifesto.

Union ministers Manohar Parrikar, Venkaiah Naidu descended to the city for campaigning and highlighting these issues. Development agenda like during the 2014 elections was on cards for the city unit. This time the muscle and money power was also added. Photographs of goons were published with the chief minister. This move was widely criticised and it was predicted that BJP will suffer a setback due to this.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the city twice and addressed four consecutive rallies. He once had to cancel the rally due to lack of audience.

BJP inducted many sitting corporators and strong leaders from other parties and declared their nominations. This caused a stir among the party loyalists but BJP state president Raosaheb Danve addressed their grievances, spending an hour in the city talking to them amidst his grueling schedule

Despite all this BJP proved to be the biggest gainer in the city. They are set to become the single largest party in the civic body and might even win with a huge lead.

"We will do everything that is needed to keep NCP Congress out of power," said Maharashtra State Guardian Minister for Pune district Girish Bapat. "This is a victory of our strong cadre," he added.

MP Sanjay Kakade went ahead to announce that he will quit active politics if BJP doesn't win in these elections. He seems to be gaining foothold as the second power centre in the city unit. Now the challenge before the party is getting the hierarchy of the leaders straight. Also the question of who would become their alliance partner if needed also remains unanswered. But for now it's party time for BJP and the party workers are in the mood for some celebration.

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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2017 18:33:00 IST

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