Will the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) retain its bastion? Or will the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) get to govern the civic body for the first time? A small rise in voter turnout in Pune has left everyone guessing.
Voters in both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations exercised their franchise for the civic body election on Tuesday. With a voter turnout of 55 percent, Pune witnessed a marginal increase of 4 percent in the current election as compared to the 2012 civic body election. The Pimpri-Chinchwad civic body election, however, saw a historic high with a turnout of 67 percent. The rise in voter turnout has left all the political parties in the two municipal corporations in a fix.
The higher voter turnout is said to benefit the BJP with experts predicting that anti-incumbency might play a crucial role in the election. While the NCP is hoping to regain power in the two civic bodies, the BJP is confident of a win.
And though results are still a day away the confidence is really high in the BJP camp. In fact, BJP leader and MP Sanjay Kakde has claimed that he will quit politics if the BJP doesn't come to power this time. "Our internal survey says we will win almost 90 to 92 seats and will not even need an alliance," he told the media.
The survey results, however, seem a little far-stretched as just a few days before the voting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had to cancel a rally in Pune due to low turnout of people. But at the same time, it is worth a reminder is that many leaders from the NCP had joined the BJP in Pimpri-Chinchwad before the election. And that is likely to cause a lot of damage to the NCP.
But despite that, the NCP is confident of retaining power. "We were hoping for a better turnout this time," NCP city unit chief and MP Vandana Chavan said. "We are going to wait and watch. Results will answer everything," she added.
But it is not going to be a cakewalk for the NCP. The talks of forming an alliance with the Indian National Congress continued until the last day of filing nominations, leaving many aspirants restless (eventually, NCP ended up forming an alliance with Congress for 100 seats in Pune). This might have also caused a lot of damage to the party. No wonder then that NCP leader Ajit Pawar was stationed in Pune almost throughout the campaigning for the civic body election. In fact, even though the NCP chief had previously declared that he will not campaign in the local body election, he ended up addressing almost four rallies this time. Besides, several of the NCP candidates that were fielded against Congress before forming the alliance, contested independently after the NCP formed an alliance with Congress.
As for Congress, a lack of leadership and divide within the party has affected it a lot. Predictions are that Congress will go down to the third or fourth position and will not win more than 20 seats.
The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, is confident that it will improve its performance. Sena city unit chief Vinayak Nimhan said, "Decision to go solo is going to be beneficial for us. We are sure of the victory." But the fact remains that the party couldn't field candidates in all the seats.
With many of its sitting corporators and party workers leaving Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, it is banking on the vote banks and strongholds of its candidates. A huge crowd had gathered at MNS chief Raj Thackrey's rally. And many were even impressed with his presentation. But it is going to be difficult to convert that into votes as they couldn't find suitable candidates for almost 36 seats. MNS had emerged as the second largest party and was the opposition party in Pune municipal corporations in 2012. But this time winning the seats of the sitting corporators is going to be a task.
And amidst all this, it's the BJP which stands to gain. "Bjp will benefit across the state... But that doesn't necessarily mean that it will win," senior political analyst and professor Suhas Palshikar said. "The NCP and Congress will suffer damage. But we will have to see if this damage results into a victory for the BJP," he added.
A total of 162 corporators will be elected to the Pune Municipal Corporation and 128 will be elected to Pimpri-Chinchawad Municipal Corporation. The results will be declared by tomorrow evening.
Updated Date: Feb 22, 2017 21:39 PM