Muslim-Dominated Malegaon, Bhiwandi Reject BJP in Maha Civic Polls
A man gets inked after casting vote. Photo used for representational purposes. (Photo: Reuters)
A man gets inked after casting vote. Photo used for representational purposes. (Photo: Reuters)

Muslim-Dominated Malegaon, Bhiwandi Reject BJP in Maha Civic Polls

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Counting for polls in Panvel, Bhiwandi and Malegaon municipal corporations concluded on 26 May.

Results:

Panvel (Halfway mark is 39 seats of total 78)

BJP: 51, PWP: 23, NCP: 2, Congress: 2, Shiv Sena: 0, Others: 0

Malegaon: (Halfway mark is 42 seats of total 84)

Congress: 28; NCP + JD(S): 27; Shiv Sena: 13, BJP: 9, AIMIM: 7, Others: 7

Bhiwandi (Halfway mark is 45 seats of total 90)

Congress: 47, BJP: 19, Shiv Sena: 12, Others: 10, SP: 2, NCP: 0

Counting for elections held in three municipal corporation in Maharashtra – Panvel, Bhiwandi and Malegaon – concluded today, voting for which took place on 24 May. The three parts saw a voter turnout of 55, 53 and 60 percent respectively.

The elections are significant because the BJP tried to make inroads into the Muslim-majority areas of Malegaon and Bhiwandi, from where it fielded not only a record number of candidates, but also a record number of Muslim candidates. The aim was to snub the Shiv Sena, which has been threatening to exit its alliance with the BJP, which had brought them to power in the 2014 Assembly elections.

However, BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in both areas, where the Congress party emerged as the winner.

This was also the first time civic body elections were being held in Panvel after its civic body was upgraded to a municipal corporation last year, where the BJP emerged as the single largest party.

(Graphic: <b>The Quint</b>)
(Graphic: The Quint)

Malegaon is a heavily Muslim-dominated city in Nashik district. Since 2012, its municipal corporation has been run by NCP. It is listed as a ‘sensitive’ city within Maharashtra, prone to communal strife. It has witnessed two bomb blasts in 2006 and 2008.

In an outreach move, BJP fielded 27 Muslim candidates this time in Malegaon, where the party did not win a single seat five years ago. Despite surprising victories in Pune, Amravati and Latur, the BJP won just nine seats, coming in fourth. But it’s still an inroad as their tally has risen from 0 to 9. Congress and NCP-JD(S) are expected to take control of the civic body.

Coming in first, Congress was led by its sitting MLA Shaikh Asif and his father and two-time MLS Shaikh Rasheed, who has been named as its mayoral candidate. The NCP-JDS alliance is yet to declare a name. AIMIM’s Malegaon president Abdul Malik contested from two seats and lost in both. 
(Graphic: <b>The Quint</b>)
(Graphic: The Quint)

Bhiwandi is considered the logistics hub of Maharashtra and holds great political significance. For the Bhiwandi municipality, 460 candidates contested the elections for 90 seats. Congress emerged as the single largest party, winning 47 seats. “The voters have denied BJP and they have wholeheartedly supported the Congress party,” said Bhiwandi city Congress chief Shoab Guddu to DNA.

The corporation has been ruled by a Congress-Shiv Sena post-poll alliance since 2012. The two came on top with a combined 42 seat-victory, while the BJP won only on eight seats last time.

This time, the NCP formed an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. BJP launched an aggressive campaign here as well, fielding 18 Muslim candidates. However, like in Malegaon, the saffron party’s efforts were thwarted by Bhiwandi as well. 
(Graphic: <b>The Quint</b>)
(Graphic: The Quint)

In the 78-seat Municipal Corporation of the Hindu-dominated area, the contest was primarily between Shiv Sena, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Peasants and Workers’ Party (PWP) allied with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). In a landslide victory, BJP came out on top, emerging as the single largest party.

A key reason for the BJP’s win in Panvel was the effective selling of the development of Navi Mumbai International Airport and Jawaharlal Nehru Port to Panvel voters. But ‘development’ did not sell with voters of Malegaon and Bhiwandi. 

BJP contested the elections in alliance with RPI(A) and PRP. Congress fought alongside its allies PWP and NCP. Shiv Sena contested the elections alone.