Election Commission of Maharashtra on Wednesday announced the dates for the upcoming 10 civic corporations and 25 district councils’ polls, including Mumbai, Thane and Pune.
Dubbed as the state’s mini assembly polls, the district councils and civic polls could possibly set the tone for the state’s 2019 elections.
The elections in the 10 civic corporations will take place on February 21, the results of which will be declared on February 23, State Election Commissioner JS Saharia told reporters.
The corporations include: Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Akola, Amravati and Solapur.
The code of conduct has been enforced from today, January 11, and nominations for all 10 civic bodies will need to be filled between January 27 to February 3.
The district councils (zilla parishad) elections will take place in two phases, on February 16 and 21.
The major parties in contention for the seats include the ruling parties Shiv Sena-BJP, along with Congress, NCP, Samajwadi Party, and MNS.
While the opposition parties are touted to go solo, suspense still looms over the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena, especially when it comes to contesting the BMC elections – the country’s richest civic body.
While sources within the BJP have said that the CM favors joining forces, there is uncertainty if the alliance will form for all constituencies. The primary bone of contention between the allies is the number of seats and mayor’s nomination.
BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar today said his party is ‘positive’ about an alliance with ally Shiv Sena, prior to meeting Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve.
The CM, who has already convinced the party high-command about his stance on the alliance, is likely first convince senior BJP leaders today, before initiating talks with the Sena chief.
On his part, Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray has also kept everyone guessing.
On one end, he gave an ultimatum to the BJP asking it to declare its stance on the alliance before the state election commission announced the polls. Yet, despite the lack of response, the Sena chief remains open to the idea of forming an alliance.
On the other, Uddhav has started interviewing candidates for the polls and publicly declared his plans of nominating the next mayor in the presence of CM Fadnavis at an event.
To add to it, the delay in electoral alliance talks, constant friction between the party’s functionaries and opposing views on demonetisation may cause the decision to go either way.
On Tuesday, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray also opened doors for a possible alliance, a move he had ruled out earlier.
Although the MNS chief has not initiated formal talks with any party yet, he told reporters that if someone comes forth with a proposal, including the BJP and Sena, he will consider it.
The last minute change in strategy may not necessarily bode well for the party, considering its limited bargaining capacity.
Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will also be contesting the civic body elections in Mumbai for the first time.
Dates for Mumbai’s civic body elections:
BMC Code Of Conduct Enforced From: January 11
BMC Nomination Date: January 27 to February 3
BMC Election Date: February 21
BMC Election Results: February 23
Seat-wise split of civic bodies:
Mumbai – 227 seats
Pune – 156 seats
Pimpri Chinchwad – 128 seats
Thane – 130 seats
Ulhasnagar – 78 seats
Nashik – 122 seats
Nagpur – 145 seats
Akola – 73 seats
Amravati – 87 seats
Solapur – 102 seats