Did you see the rainbow that shone over Jalgaon on Monday? Forty-year-old transgender Anjali Patil of the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA) emerged as one of the winners of the much talked about gram panchayat polls in Maharashtra, whose results were declared on Monday.
Anjali won from Bhadli Budruk village in Jalgaon.
About 1.25 lakh other candidates also emerged victorious in the elections held last week.
VBA workers are ecstatic over the victory of their only transgender candidate in the state—videos of workers celebrating Anjali's victory went viral on social media on Monday itself.
Anjali had filed her nomination from the seat reserved for a woman. However, the administration had rejected her candidature. She had then moved the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, which allowed her to contest the election.
VBA President Prakash Ambedkar congratulated her on Twitter. "Special appreciation and congratulations to Anjali Patil who was elected from Bhadali Gram Panchayat, Jalgaon. Inspired by Anjali, many transgenders will definitely join politics in the future."
He also applauded VBA youth wing member Shameebha Patil, who helped Anjali in her court battle.
The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) too claimed a "huge win," while the opposition BJP said it had come out stronger.
Though these elections are not fought on party symbols, panels are fielded by political parties or local leaders.
NCP leaders claimed that the MVA comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress members has won big in the polls.
On the other hand, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP has emerged as the single largest party in these elections.
Polling for 12,711 gram panchayats was held in 34 of the total 36 districts on January 15.
Polling was held for 1,25,709 seats, for which 2,14,880 candidates were in the fray.
Of the total 2,41,598 candidates who were in the race post scrutiny and withdrawal of nominations, 26,718 had no rivals, and hence, were declared elected unopposed, the state Election Commission had said.
Polls for 14,234 gram panchayats were announced on December 11 last year, but those for some local governing bodies were held completely or partially unopposed.
Later, the elections got delayed mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gram panchayats are considered the third tier of governance. Elections for them are not held on party lines or using party symbols. Candidates are allotted election symbols from a list of free symbols.
Speaking to reporters in Pune, senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said, "As per inputs, the results of gram panchayat elections are good and in favour of the MVA. Party workers of the Congress, Sena, and NCP have clinched victory. In most of these places, the Congress, NCP, and Sena have retained seats in their respective strongholds. I congratulate all these members for this success."
Pawar also said the overall (political) picture in Maharashtra seems to be changing post the results of the legislative council elections held last year, in which the BJP had suffered a setback.
Another senior NCP leader and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said in Nashik that the MVA has achieved a "huge success" in the gram panchayat elections as per trends and results.
Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat claimed that 80 per cent of the seats in gram panchayats that went to polls were won by MVA constituents.
"The MVA alliance has won 80 per cent villages in this election, while Congress alone has won 4,000 gram panchayats. This is a strong message to the BJP and its style of working," he added.
However, Fadnavis, leader of opposition in the legislative assembly, said, "As MVA parties have come together, we got a lot of space to expand. The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the gram panchayat polls."
"Following a natural calamity, this MVA government has failed to resolve the woes of the people. The poll outcome is a strong message to the state government," the former chief minister added.
(With inputs from PTI)