Stage set for elections, polling on Feb 21

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Jan 2017 10:52:23

Special Correspondent,

Elections of Nagpur ZP and Panchayat Samiti not announced due to directions of the HC

With announcement of Municipal Corporation elections in Maharashtra on February 21, stage is set for a battle royale for Nagpur Municipal Corporation elections in which ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will try to score a hat-trick of victory while the opposition Congress will try hard to dethrone BJP and stop its winning spree.
The elections of Nagpur Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti have been deferred due to directions of Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. The counting of all the elections will be held on February 23. The model code of conduct for the election came into force from Wednesday evening.

After Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat elections, this is another litmus test for the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena led State Government. The ruling party performed well in recently held Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat elections and hopes to perform well in NMC polls in the changed political situation.

Recently, the State Government introduced multi-member ward system or Prabhag in Municipal Corporations (except Mumbai). Now, Municipal Corporations (barring Mumbai) will have four-member wards. Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) will have 38 Prabhags comprising 151 members. Of these, 37 prabhags will have four members while one ward will have three members. The tenure of the present body is coming to an end on March 5. Therefore, new Mayor is likely to be elected by March 4, sources claimed.

In Nagpur, the ruling BJP will seek vote for consecutive third term from the voters. Presently, BJP has 63 members and has got support of Shiv Sena, Independents and other smaller parties. Their strength in the local body is around 81 members while Congress has 41 members, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has six members, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has 12 members in the outgoing house of total 145 members.
The party is banking on performance of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari. BJP is in power in Centre as well as in State. The party has initiated a lot of development works in last two years to win the heart of Nagpurians. After splendid victory of Gadkari in Lok Sabha elections in 2014 with a margin of over 2.86 lakh votes, BJP then consolidated its position by winning all six Assembly seats in Nagpur city with huge margins.

The opposition Congress and NCP were so demoralised that for next two years, they lost the will to corner BJP at least on local issues. BJP camp is upbeat since last two years. Virtually every week-end, Chief Minister Fadnavis and Union Minister Gadkari along with Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule addressed hundreds of functions, meetings and civic functions to reach out to maximum people.

Congress, which lost the election in last two civic body polls mostly due to bitter infighting between various factions within the party, is trying to stage a comeback in the civic body. However, this appears to be a daunting task as senior leaders and their close confidants are still indulging in factional feud and have failed to present a united face before the citizens.

Surprisingly, BSP is likely to gain more seats in these elections. The party has strong hold in North and South Nagpur and it may gain from this presence. NCP and Shiv Sena are still struggling to create space for themselves and without an alliance with their natural partners, they may be reduced to minimum seats. BJP and Congress have shown little interest in leaving seats for Shiv Sena and NCP respectively.

Already, Shiv Sena has declared to fight it alone in civic polls. Other outfits like MNS will find it difficult to carve out political space. MIM also will test its support base and will field the candidates mostly in Muslim dominated localities of Central, North, and West Nagpur.

Mwanwhile, on declaration of election programme and model code of conduct coming into force, Mayor Pravin Datke, Standing Committee chief Sudhir Raut, and other office-bearers in NMC surrendered their official vehicles.