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Mainstream, VOL LV No 24 New Delhi June 3, 2017

Civic Polls expose Bjp’s Vulnerability

Thursday 8 June 2017, by Barun Das Gupta

The myth, assiduously created by the BJP’s propaganda machinery working overtime, that the party is unbeatable in any election is exploding. The results of several elections and bye-elections in civic bodies in Maharashtra and Delhi bring home this truth

To take Delhi first. The BJP swept the recent polls in three civic bodies of Delhi. The Congress did slightly better than before while the AAP fared very badly. But the BJP lost all the two by-elections that were held immediately afterwards, following the countermanding of polls due to the death of the candidates. In one ward, the Congress won by a comfortable margin of three thousand votes. The other went to the AAP. In both of the constituencies the BJP was in the third position.

Not to accept defeat with good grace, the BJP has flung a question to the AAP: how come you won a seat after ascribing your defeat to the alleged rigging of the EVMs? While the AAP is not known to have given a reply, a counter-question can be put to the BJP: how come that so soon after you swept the polls, you were roundly defeated in both the by-elections held within days?

But the BJP conceded more victories to the Opposition parties in the recently held polls in Maharashtra. In the Bhiwandi-Nizampur city municipal corporation, the Congress bagged 47 out of 90 seats. In the last elections held in 2012, the Congress tally was just 26. The Congress is going to have its own mayor this time. But the Samajwadi Party took a severe beating. It won only two seats against the 17 it won last time. The BJP came a distant second, winning only 19 seats.

The Congress, it may be recalled, fared badly in the polls in ten civic bodies held earlier this year.

In the Malegaon Municipal Corporation, the BJP fared even worse. Out of a total of 84 seats, it could win only nine. The Congress bagged 28 seats, followed by NCP (20), Shiv Sena (13), AIMIM (7) and Janata Dal (6) and a lone Independent.

Taken together, the Bhiwandi, Malegaon and Panvel municipalities have a total of 252 seats. The BJP and Congress raced neck and neck, the BJP capturing 79 seats and the Congress 77. The Shiv Sena got 25 seats, Peasants’ and Workers’ Party 23, RPI (Athawale group) four and the SP just two. But the BJP, to its credit, won the newly created Panvel municipality. The BJP had to kiss the dust in two of the three municipalities where there is a high percentage of minority population. The minorities of Maharashtra evidently did not emulate the example of their brethren in UP where the BJP is supposed to have taken away a huge chunk of Muslim votes.

The author was a correspondent of The Hindu in Assam. He also worked in Patriot, Compass (Bengali), Mainstream. A veteran journalist, he comes from a Gandhian family and was intimately associated with the RCPI leader, Pannalal Das Gupta.

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