Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut (File Photo, Image credit: ThePrint)

Big blow to BJP in Maharashtra rural bodies’ polls

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra received a big setback when its rival Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress combine (Maha Vikas Aghadi) claimed to have won almost three-fourths of the seats in the panchayat elections held on January 15.

However, the BJP with 2,921 seats claims to have emerged as the single largest party. The election for 12,711 gram-panchayats was held in 34 out of 36 districts of the state.

Though the rural local bodies’ elections are not held on party symbols, yet the local panels are fielded by political parties.

Among the ruling MVA constituents the Shiv Sena with 2,724 seats won the largest number of seats to be followed by the Nationalist Congress Party (2,673) and Congress (1,905).

The biggest surprise was in Nagpur where the Congress claimed to have won in 83 seats to be followed by the BJP in 25 seats, the NCP in 14 and the Shiv Sena in 5. Nagpur acquires significance because it is the headquarters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Another special outcome of the panchayat election is the poor performance of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

Though the BJP too has made claims about its success the fact is that the party has received a jolt in comparison to the last election. Recently, some of its leaders deserted the party to join Shiv Sena, NCP and even the Congress. The most prominent face to quit the party was Eknath Khadse, a former minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government, who joined the Nationalist Congress Party in October last.

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