An hour into the counting of votes for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, initial trends showed the Shiv Sena bearing a 20-seat lead over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). (LIVE UPDATES)
Of Mumbai’s 227 electoral wards, the Shiv Sena led in over 50 seats, the BJP in more than 30 and the Congress in about 10. If this pattern continues, the Shiv Sena could end up winning a majority of the seats in the civic body – firmly showing the BJP, its nearly estranged saffron ally, who is the boss.
Initial rounds of counting indicated a comfortable lead for the Shiv Sena in five of the six electoral wards in F-South ward, comprising the party’s strongholds of Parel and Sewri in central Mumbai. Tejasvini Ghosalkar – wife of sitting Shiv Sena corporator Abhishek Ghosalkar – also registered a lead for the party at Kandharpada in the city’s extreme north, while former Sena mayor Shraddha Jadhav edged ahead of the BJP’s Vijaykaxmi Pawar in Parel. Sena candidate Surendra Bagalkar, for his part, took a lead over the rival party’s Atul Shah in Kalbadevi, a southern area dominated by Gujaratis.
However, most of the other Gujarati-dominated areas – such as Goregaon, Ghatkopar, Cuffe Parade, Churchgate and Colaba – seemed to be leaning towards the BJP. The party’s Parag Shah got a head start on sitting Congress corporator Pravin Chheda at Ghatkopar, while Harsh Patel seemed en route to trouncing the Sena’s Biren Limbachia in Goregaon. The party is also leading in two of the three wards in Mumbai’s extreme south – the elite Colaba-Cuffe Parade-Churchgate area. While the BJP’s Harshita Narvekar is leading over Congress’ sitting corporator Shushma Shekhar, Makrand Narvekar – a sitting independent corporator who joined the saffron party before the election – seems to be giving Congress candidate Puran Doshi a run for his money.
This is the first BMC election to see the Shiv Sena and the BJP contesting independently since 1997, making it a prestige issue for both the parties. The regional party is fighting to hold on to its home turf of Mumbai while the BJP – fresh from its success in the 2014 assembly polls – is seeking to make deeper inroads into the country’s financial capital.