Allies-turned-foes Shiv Sena and BJP were neck-and-neck in the fight for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls on Thursday after months of acrimonious campaign for India's richest civic body, rife with verbal volleys, name-calling and graft charges.
The Shiv Sena was narrowly in the lead, winning 84 seats, followed closely by the BJP with 80. A party needs 114 seats to stake claim to the mayor's post.
Results of 225 out of 227 electoral wards had been announced till evening with counting for two constituencies still underway.
The results are likely to lead to another round of tussle between the two erstwhile partners that would have to either join hands or aggressively compete for tacit support from other parties and independents to win power.
"We have the support of a few independents, and are confident of emerging as the party with the highest number of seats in the BMC," BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar said.
Among other parties, the Congress has won 31 seats, a far cry from the 52 seats that the party won in 2012. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has won in nine wards, the Samajwadi Party in six, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in seven, and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in three. Besides, four seats have gone to independent candidates, while the Akhil Bharatiya Sena has clinched one.
This was the first BMC election since 1997 to see the Shiv Sena and the BJP contesting independently, making it a prestige issue for both the parties. The regional party was fighting to hold on to its home turf while the BJP - fresh from its success in the 2014 assembly polls - was seeking to make deeper inroads into the country's financial capital.
Two constituencies where counting was still on were Kalbadevi in south Mumbai where BJP's Atul Shah was in close contest with Sena's Surendra Bagalkar, and Kandivali in the north where BJP's Surekha Patil was leading Sena's Anupama Ambekar.
Following the Congress' dismal performance, city party chief Sanjay Nirupam offered to resign, taking blame for the

lackluster performance of the party. The party also maintained it would neither support the Sena nor the BJP. The Congress' hold on Mumbai has been consistently loosening since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with the party grappling with factionalism and infighting.
The Sena posted victory in several of its bastions. For starters, the party managed to reclaim its citadel of Dadar and Mahim, which it had to cede to the Raj Thackeray-led MNS in the 2012 civic polls. The party also picked seats in Bhandup, Dahisar, Parel, Lalbaug, Bandra East, Santacruz, Khar and so on. Senior Sena leaders such as Mangesh Satamkar, sitting Mayor Snehal Ambekar, and former Mayors Milind Vaidya, Vishakha Raut, and Shraddha Jadhav all emerged successful. However, several of the party's strong candidates had to also face defeat. These include Sena standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse and senior leader Devendra Ambedkar who jumped from Congress to Sena just before elections. Both candidates lost to the BJP.
In a setback to Sena Member of Parliament (MP) Rahul Shewale, his wife Kamini Shewale lost to BJP's Anita Panchal. Panchal and her husband Dinesh Panchal were former Sena members who defected to the BJP before elections after their parent party decided to field Rahul Shewale's wife instead of Anita Panchal.
The BJP, on the other hand, made an entry in Shiv Sena's bastion, the Marathi heartland of Dadar, with the election of Sheetal Gambhir, daughter of former Sena legislator Suresh Gambhir. The party also registered a victory in Andheri West, Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Goregaon, Borivali, Sion Koliwada and so on.
BJP's Makrand Narvekar and his sister-in-law Harshita Narvekar won from Colaba and Cuffe Parade, respectively. Party MP Kirit Somaiya's son, Neil Somaiya, also emerged successful from Mulund, prompting his father to call it a victory of "transparency," a stick that Somaiya was constantly beating the Sena with.
Besides the BMC, the BJP was also doing well in at least seven of the nine municipal corporations where counting has been underway since morning.

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