first_imgChief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday said the Shiv Sena is contesting the Nanded-Waghala polls at the behest of the Congress. Speaking in Nanded on the last day of poll campaigning, Mr. Fadnavis accused the Sena of “dancing to the tune” of State Congress president Ashok Chavan. Mr. Fadnavis said the Sena had entered the polls with the sole intention of “humiliating and defeating the BJP”.He said, “They [the Sena] are nothing but the stooges of the Congress. All these years, the Congress ruled Nanded and their leaders filled their own pockets. Now they are worried about a possible BJP win. They are using the Sena as a weapon to suppress the BJP. They will not succeed.”The Chief Minister was reacting to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s outburst against the BJP-led governments at State and Centre. The Sena president had criticised the BJP for failing to fulfil their poll promises. Mr. Thackeray mocked the BJP for allegedly seeking help after failing to find suitable candidates for the polls.Close contestThe elections are expected to be a closely fought affair with candidates from the BJP, the Congress and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in the fray. the AIMIM is expected to eat into the Congress’s minority vote-share.The election has also cast a shadow on the political future of Mr. Chavan and his fiefdom, Nanded. The Congress leader was elected the chief of the State unit in 2016 after he managed to win the Nanded parliamentary seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls despite the ‘Modi wave’. A BJP sweep in the Nanded would be a severe loss of face for Mr. Chavan and deal a big blow to the Congress’s waning presence in the State. The BJP had secured just two seats in the 2012 polls to the Nanded Municipal Corporation. In 2012, the Congress bagged 41 seats, the Shiv Sena won 14 and AIMIM secured 10 seats. This time, the BJP has engineered a coup ahead of polls. Thirteen corporators from the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena have defected to the party. The BJP is expecting to repeat its performance in the 2017 civic polls where it swept Western Maharashtra by routing the Congress and the NCP. It emerged as the single-largest party in four crucial civic bodies: Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik and Solapur.The party broke the decade-long stranglehold of Sharad Pawar’s NCP and won 78 of the 128 seats in the PCMC. In the 2012 PCMC polls, the BJP had won a mere three seats. The BJP scripted the turnaround by fielding heavyweight politicians who defected from opposition parties, especially the NCP. The BJP will be hoping for similar gains in Nanded as well.last_img

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