THE 2017 civic elections in Maharashtra were perhaps as closely watched and contested as an Assembly election. And with good reason. The drama that preceded the elections continued to the very end with the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former allies, almost neck and neck.
Of the 10 municipal corporations, 25 zilla parishads and 283 panchayat samitis that went to the polls, the most keenly followed was the election to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The Sena and the BJP had together ruled the MCGM since 1997. It was the alliance that had kept them in power, and thus, when their disagreement over seat sharing resulted in a parting of ways, the elections suddenly became interesting. Essentially, the elections were about these two parties. The others were inconsequential in the power game. The Sena considers “owning” Mumbai a matter of its right, but the increasing cosmopolitan composition of the city with a more aware citizenry meant that the party did have a true fight on its hands. The BJP had the automatic boost that comes from being the party in power at the Centre.
It was widely agreed that these civic elections would have the effect of giving Maharashtra’s politics a new direction. In Mumbai, the Sena won 84 seats and the BJP 82. But in the larger political game, it is actually the BJP that has emerged as the winner. It has drastically improved on its 2012 tally of 31 seats in Mumbai. The Sena’s g