Mumbai: The Congress and its allies can derive some relief from municipal elections in Maharashtra. The outcome showed Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign had little influence on the civic polls in his home state.
Out of 132 municipal councils that went to the polls on Sunday, the National Congress Party (NCP) won 44 and the Congress 35; in addition, the two parties that are part of Maharashtra’s ruling coalition won eight jointly.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena won nine and six municipal councils individually, and seven jointly.
A file photo of NCP leader Sharad Pawar
Out of 2,786 seats that were up for grabs across the 132 municipal councils, the NCP won 878, followed by the Congress with 653.
NCP president and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has been blamed by critics for rising food prices. Pawar was slapped on 25 November by a man in New Delhi after which Hazare’s comment “..Was it just one?” got overwhelming attention on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, building an impression that the public mood was against the Congress-NCP combine.
“We just concentrated on the issue of development and people understand who can deliver on the development, so they voted for us,” NCP spokesman Madan Bafna said. “It was media’s naivete which led them to believe that Anna is a big factor in the elections.”
Suhas Palshikar, a psephologist and professor of political science at the University of Pune, also said it was the media which thought Hazare or his anti-corruption campaign was an issue, “but local elections are fought completely on local issues, and one can’t superimpose larger national or state level issues on these elections”.