NCP loses turf to BJP

published on June 29, 2010

Praful loses turf to BJP

TN Raghunatha | Mumbai

In a setback for senior NCP leader Praful Patel, the BJP has captured power in the zila parishads of Gondia and Bhandara in eastern Maharashtra. Both local bodies fall in Patel’s constituency.

This is for the first time that the BJP has gained control over these two zila parishads. With these two zila parishads, the total number of zila parishads controlled by the BJP in the State has gone up to three. The party has, for some time, been ruling the Jalgaon Zila Parishad in north Maharashtra.

This is the BJP’s first major electoral success after its unimpressive showing in the October 2009 State Assembly polls. The development has also come as a big boost for State BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar, who assumed office in April this year. Gondia and Bhandara districts are part of Vidarbha region, from where Mungantwar hails.

On the other hand, the poll debacle has proved to be an embarrassment for both the NCP and Congress, which together ruled the two parishads till recently.

While Patel can ill-afford not to take cognisance of his party’s poor electoral performance, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has also not acquitted himself well in the polls. Chavan had personally campaigned in the zila parishad polls for two days.

Patel, it may be recalled, had won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Bhandara-Gondia constituency by a huge margin of 2,51,915 votes over Independent Nana Patole. BJP candidate Shishupal Patle had emerged third in the polls, by securing 1,58 lakh votes as against 4.89 lakh votes polled by Patel and 2.37 lakh votes received by Patole.

In the zila parishad polls held during the weekend, the BJP emerged a clear winner in Gondia where it won 27 out of 52 seats, as against 13 seats won by the NCP, 9 seats by the Congress and one by the Shiv Sena.

Similarly, the BJP managed to capture 50 out of 104 panchayat samitis in the district, while the NCP and Congress had to remain content with victories in 18 and 12 village bodies.

In the neighbouring Bhandara Zila Parishad, the BJP walked away with 25 out of 52 seats, while the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena won five, 11 and two seats, respectively. Besides, seven Independent candidates and two BSP nominees romped home in the polls.

Though the BJP is just one short of a simple majority in the zila parishads, it has already enlisted the support of a party rebel who won the polls, two Sena nominees and at least five Independents. “We will prove that we have a comfortable majority in the Bhandara Zila Parishad,” said a senior BJP leader.

Talking to The Pioneer, Mungantiwar expressed happiness over the party’s impressive show in the zila parishad polls. “The victory has lifted the spirits of party cadre who were disappointed with the performance in the State Assembly polls. We are happy that we have captured two zila parishads in Patel’s home constituency,” Mungantiwar said.

“In addition, we have scored a political point over the Congress. Because, Chavan has not been able to ensure victory for the Congress, despite having made the polls a prestige issue and campaigned for two days,” he added.

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