On a day when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the urban civic body polls in Gujarat, it received a major setback in Maharashtra. The party lost the mayoral and deputy mayoral elections to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress in the Sangli-Kupwad Municipal Corporation despite having a majority. NCP nominee Digvijay Suryawanshi defeated BJP’s mayoral candidate Dhiraj Suryawanshi. Congress nominee Umesh Patil was elected deputy mayor. The NCP candidate polled 39 votes, while the BJP’s mayoral nominee received 36. Two corporators remained abstained and cross voting helped NCP and Congress to win the two posts.
Simmering discontent against the state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, who had worked as the Sangli district guardian minister from 2014 to 2019, rising factionalism and lack of coordination led to BJP’s humiliating defeat.
Today’s defeat is also seen as a personal embarrassment for Patil who has been under attack for dividing the party organisations while neglecting the grassroots. BJP Member of the Parliament (MP) Sanjaykaka Patil and Sangli district unit chief Prithviraj Deshmukh remained silent during these elections, as a result of the increasing factionalism.
In the 78-member civic body, BJP has 41 members and has secured a majority with the support of two independents. Congress and NCP are in the opposition with 20 and 15 seats, respectively. Following the death of the former mayor, who was from the Congress party, the strength had reduced to 77 members.
On the other hand, NCP and Congress played their cards well as they joined hands together by luring independents and seven disgruntled BJP corporators. Maharashtra Water Resources Minister and NCP state unit chief Jayant Patil’s strategy worked by repeating the Maha Vikas Aghadi formula. BJP’s loss came days after it was defeated in the Legislative Council elections held in the teachers and graduates’ constituencies and also after the MVA reported a big gain in the recently held gram panchayat elections.
Patil has turned out to be an architect for today’s victory, as he had reportedly lured about 7 BJP corporators who were not happy with the party’s style of functioning. Patil told the Free Press Journal, “Today’s victory was due to a great teamwork between NCP and Congress.”