Continuing its good run in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday won 14 of the 16 mayoral seats in the state, including those of Ayodhya and Varanasi. Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP’s) candidate won in Aligarh and Meerut.

Counting of votes for all 652 urban local bodies began at 8am. Polling was held for 16 nagar nigams (municipal corporations), 198 nagarpalika parishads and 438 nagar panchayats with an average turnout of all three phases estimated at 52.5%.

The civic elections were seen as the first electoral test for the BJP since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by it came to power in March this year, winning 325 of the 403 assembly seats in the state.

“Development has again won in this country. I thank the people of Uttar Pradesh for the tremendous support in the civic elections. I congratulate chief minister Yogi Adityanath and all supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party. This victory will inspire us to take forward the development work and work hard for the benefit of people," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after civic poll results came in.

According to PTI, the BJP has won in 14 of the 16 mayoral seats. The BSP bagged Aligarh and Meerut municipal corporations. Prominent among the corporations where the BJP won the mayoral poll are Lucknow, Allahabad, Agra, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Faizabad and Moradabad.

“This victory is because of the people-friendly policies and people-friendly governance provided by the union government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state chief minister Yogi Adityanath. I thank the people of the state for their continuous faith in the efforts of the BJP," tweeted BJP president Amit Shah.

The state government under chief minister Yogi Adityanath had constituted two municipal corporations of Ayodhya and Vrindavan-Mathura in March this year, soon after it came to power in Uttar Pradesh.

Describing the civic poll victory as “historic", the chief minister said the win for the BJP was possible because of Modi’s vision and Shah’s guidance.

Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2017, Adityanath said that the state government would work towards making civic bodies more responsive to the needs of the people. “We want to ensure that people get basic facilities through civic bodies, and local bodies become more sensitive and responsive to the needs of people," he said.

The chief minister also said that his government was working towards decentralization of power so that local bodies were not controlled by those in power in Lucknow.

While Adityanath campaigned extensively in the run-up to the civic polls, campaigns of the Congress, BSP and Samajwadi Party (SP) were rather low key. Neither BSP chief Mayawati nor former chief minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav campaigned.

Polling for civic elections was held on 22, 26 and 29 November.

PTI contributed to this story.