Mumbai headed for fractured mandate

Wed 22 Feb 2017, 09:56:07
A record 52-55% of 92 lakh voters exercised their franchise on Tuesday in the crucial civic polls in Mumbai, where traditional partners Shiv Sena and BJP contested against each other for the first time in 25 years. 

Exit polls and political pundits are predicting a fractured mandate with the two parties in a neck-and-neck race for the biggest civic body in Asia.

This means there is a possibility of the former saffron alliance partners coming together again, when the results come in, to run the 227-seat Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Besides Mumbai, nine other big municipal corporations, 11 zilla parishads and 118 panchayat samitis in Maharashtra went to the polls. 

With the splitting of traditional Shiv Sena-BJP and Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliances, the Mumbai civic polls became a multi-cornered contest and saw high-pitched campaigning.

Besides, there are Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Samajwadi Party and Owaisi brothers-led Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) creating a dent in the votes of these parties. If there is no clear mandate, the possibility of the Shiv Sena and BJP coming together to form the local government again has not been ruled out. 

The results will also have a bearing on the fate of the two-and-a-half-year-old state government and the political fortunes of Chief

Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

Last year, Shiv Sena and BJP contested the Kalyan-Dombivli corporation polls separately but came together after the polls. The Axis-My India exit poll for India Today puts Shiv Sena and BJP neck and neck. 

According to this poll, Shiv Sena may get 86-90 seats, and BJP 80-88 seats. Shiv Sena and BJP will each get 32% of the votes. The Congress may get 30-34 seats with a vote share of 16%. NCP may be reduced to 3-6 seats, MNS may get 5-7 seats and SP 2-4 seats. Shiv Sena currently has 75 seats followed by BJP (31), Congress (52), NCP (7), MNS (27), SP (9) and others (32). 

For the last two decades, Sena-BJP has been in power in Mumbai. Counting of votes would be taken up on Thursday. Celebrities including former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actor Shah Rukh Khan, lyricist Gulzar and newly appointed Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran stood in queues to vote.

According to the State Election Commission, Mumbai recorded 52-55% turnout, which is higher than in the last three elections.

"Thank you #Mumbai for the record voting percentage & people from all Municipal Corporations & ZP for participating in festival of democracy!," Fadnavis tweeted. Polling across the state was largely peaceful except for a few stray incidents.

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