Maharashtra bypoll results: Congress' Ravindra Dhangekar wins Kasba Peth; BJP's Ashwini Jagtap gets Chinchwad by narrow margin

Maharashtra bypoll results: Congress' Ravindra Dhangekar wins Kasba Peth; BJP's Ashwini Jagtap gets Chinchwad by narrow margin

Congress wrests Kasba from BJP, which won Chinchwad from NCP by a narrow margin; MVA says it needs to work in unison; BJP says it will introspect on mistakes

Amey TirodkarUpdated: Friday, March 03, 2023, 11:43 AM IST
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Ravindra Dhangekar (left) won from Kasba while BJP's Ashwini Jagtap (right) won Chinchwad seat | FPJ

Pune: The defeat in Kasba has woken up the BJP top brass in Maharashtra. The party lost the constituency, but won in Chinchwad. These both seats are from urban areas, which have been its strongholds since 2014.

Kasba comes under the Pune municipality and Chinchwad is under the Pimpri Chinchwad municipality. Both have been with the BJP since 2017. Right now both have administrators. However, voters rejecting the BJP campaign despite huge efforts of rank and file would force its leaders to rethink the upcoming civic elections as 14 municipalities, including the BMC, will go to polls soon.

Due to COVID-19, the elections in various local bodies, including municipalities, municipal councils, zilla parishad and panchayat samiti were postponed in the state from February 2022. Issues related to OBC reservation are also pending before the Supreme Court. So, the reasons for the delay in holding elections are many.

All over Maharashtra, the BJP has significant power in urban pockets where almost 45% voters reside. Nashik, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Solapur, Sangli, Akola, Jalgaon, Dhule and many other municipalities are with the party.

After Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra has the second largest number of Lok Sabha (48) seats. The BJP is meticulously planning on every single seat to win more and more from the state. In Maharashtra, the party will need to have control on the State Government as well as local bodies to make the implementation of its welfare schemes easy.

However, in the backdrop of Thursday results, the BJP would also be worried about the voters’ mood. In such a case, going to polls and risking the larger political game of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections won’t be wise for it. As a result, immediately after the results of Kasaba and Chinchwad, buzz about possible postponement of municipality elections started in the power corridors

Lessons for Maha Vikas Aghadi

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders also have a big lesson to learn from these by-elections – if they stay together, they will win. Defeating the BJP won’t be an uphill task for them if they honestly stand with each other. This could be a game changer for the Lok Sabha as well as the Assembly elections.

Chinchwad was lost to the BJP just because there was no unity. Rahul Kalate from Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena rebelled against the NCP’s Nana Kate. This helped BJP’s Ashwini Jagtap to sail through. NCP leader Ajit Pawar, therefore, said, “We should avoid division of anti-BJP votes in every seat.”

Congress’ Nana Patole said that MVA leaders need to sit together and discuss these issues. “Our ultimate goal is to defeat the BJP in India as well as in the Maharashtra Assembly. We will have big chances if we can have unity among us,” said Patole.

Uddhav Thackeray while talking to the media after the results underlined a similar sentiment. “People are ready to support us. They are fed up with BJP’s politics. If we honestly stay together then the people will elect us everywhere,” he said.

Where did BJP go wrong?

The Kasaba by-election took place after party’s MLA Mukta Tilak died last year. There was controversy from the start.

The BJP gave ticket to Ashwini Jagtap, wife of deceased MLA Lakshman Jagtap in Chinchwad. But the party didn’t give the ticket to any of the Tilak family members. There was buzz that this decision had hurt 36,000 Brahmin community voters from the constituency.

There was also a buzz that Girish Bapat, who is Lok Sabha MP from Pune and also five-term MLA from Kasba was also not in the loop while deciding candidate here. Bapat is ill due to cancer. But he was still brought for campaign.

The videos of Bapat under pain, coughing and having oxygen support, while speaking were not received well by his supporters in the constituency.

Also, the party had asked two cabinet ministers and more than 20 MLAs to join the campaign. All this couldn’t change the decision of voters.

“We agree that there were some mistakes. People have expressed their opinion and we respect that. We will introspect and learn through it,” said BJP state chief Chandrashekhar Bavankule after the results.

Even Chinchwad results didn’t give the BJP much to celebrate. The party could win here because of two factors – sympathy for Jagtap family and division of votes of MVA.

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