Maha civic polls: Congress sweeps Latur

Cong on Monday swept the Latur municipal corporation and emerged as the single largest party in three of the four other civic bodies in Maharashtra.

Mumbai: Congress on Monday swept the Latur municipal corporation and emerged as the single largest party in three of the four other civic bodies in Maharashtra, where elections were held yesterday.

The party`s most impressive performance came in Latur, from where Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh hails. Congress bagged 49 of the 70 seats, fending off a challenge by NCP, which managed only 13 seats. Shiv Sena won 6 and others two.

Congress and NCP, ruling alliance partners in the state government, contested the polls separately.

Voting was held in Latur, Chandrapur and Parbhani which were upgraded into corporations and also in Malegaon and Bhiwandi-Nizampur corporations.

The only place where Congress lost pole position was Parbhani, where NCP outshone Congress, bagging 30 of the total 65 seats. Congress won 23, Shiv Sena 8, BJP 2 and others 2 seats.

In Chandrapur, from where state BJP chief Sudhir Mungantiwar hails, Congress won 26 of the total 66 seats, while BJP won 18 seats. NCP won 4, Sena 5, MNS 1, BSP 1 and others 11 seats.

In Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corporation, Congress won 26 of the total 90 seats. NCP won 9, Sena 16, BJP 8 and others 15 seats. Independents have held sway over the Bhiwandi civic body, with the support of Congress-NCP or Shiv Sena-BJP alliances. Bhiwandi, 44 km from Mumbai, is a powerloom city with Muslims as the majority community.

In Malegaon, Congress won 25 of the total 80 seats. NCP won 8, Sena 11, MNS 2 and others won 34 seats.

Conceding defeat in Latur, NCP MP JM Waghmare said the rival party (read Congress) had used money power in the polls, distributing sarees to women and giving cash to voters.

Deshmukh thanked voters for the trust shown in Congress and assured that there would be no shortage of funds for developmental schemes.

Polling was held for 371 seats in the 5 corporations. Following is the final tally: Congress-149, NCP-64, Shiv Sena -46, BJP-28, MNS-3, BSP-1, other state parties-21, registered parties-31 and independents-28.

Reacting to the poll results, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre today said that it has proved that the party could do exceedingly well if it contested elections on its own.

Addressing a press conference, MPCC president Manikrao Thakre said it was speculated that the Congress would bite the dust in Bhiwandi-Nizampur, Malegaon, especially after the Uttar Pradesh assembly results.

"Even in Chandrapur, the home town of state BJP chief Sudhir Mungantiwar, Congress bagged 26 seats out of the total 66. Results in these three civic bodies indicate that political equations can change," he said.

Thakre said that party`s performance was satisfactory considering the fact that in Parbhani, Malegaon, Chandrapur and Bhiwandi, it did not have an MLA.

"The victory in Latur is a credit to the Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh`s leadership and good planning and co-ordination by local MLA Amit Deshmukh," he said.

Both Congress and NCP had fought the elections separately.

When asked about the post-poll strategy, Thakre said considering how the NCP had "backstabbed" the party in the zilla parishad presidents and vice presidents` election, Congress will have to be cautious.

"We are keeping our options open and entrusted the decision on post-poll alliances to the local leadership," he said, when asked if there is a possibility of post-poll tie-up with NCP.

"Let NCP declare its stand first in Parbhani," he said.

To a question on whether the election results were a relief considering the poor performance of the party in the local bodies polls in February, Thakre said Congress had not fared poorly in the local bodies polls.

"We had done badly only in Mumbai municipal corporation," he said adding that in today`s election for Osmanabad president and vice president, Congress won both the posts.

When contacted, NCP spokesman Madan Bafna said local leadership has been entrusted with the task of taking decisions on post-poll alliances.

"In Parbhani, we can come to power on our own with the help of two independents," he said adding that the parliamentary board will decide on supporting the Congress in the five civic bodies.

State BJP Chief Sudhir Mungantiwar told reporters that the party fared poorly in Chandrapur.

"Except in Latur, no party got majority in the other four corporations. BJP has entrusted the decision of post-poll alliances to local leaders," he added.