The Mumbai municipal election dates were announced by state election commissioner Nandlal yesterday. The Jan-Feb polls are scheduled for 10 cities viz. Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Pune, Nashik, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, AKOLA, Amravati & Nagpur with election day being Feb 1st for Mumbai.
With the announcement of the civic polls the model code of conduct has come into force. As a result many of the BMC's projects will now be stalled and prior permission will have to be obtained from the election commissioner himself for new projects to be sanctioned.
More crucially these polls will decide the fate of the Congress party in Mumbai. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has been reeling this year under the strain of the July rain deluge followed by the 7/11 Mumbai suburnban train blasts, the Khairlanji double rape & murders followed by statewide riots by Dalits. The deputy C.M. R. R. Patil's handling of the riots when the C.M. was in Singapore also dealth a blow to the ruling circles.
pictured: C.M. Deshmukh
Congress' Narayan Rane who is revenue minister in the govt. has also kept his hopes alive of becoming the next C.M.
The Shiv Sena-BJP combine inspite lagging in many by-elections is looking to renew its fortunes. The biggest threat to them though comes from their own split faction and the latest political party (formed this year), the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Led by the maverick Raj Thackeray, nephew of S.S. supremo & spiritual head Bal Thackeray and cousin of Uddhav Thackeray. M.N.S. hopes to win over the public with its projected people friendly visage.
S.S.'s loss could very well be M.N.S.'s gain. With Marathi speaking people having lost considerable faith in S.S. for their anti-Valentine, anti-Pak cricket matches, hardline stances with cultural policeing including the riots indulged by party workers after Minatai's statue desecration. Also S.S.'s lack of innovative strategy & clear direction could mean they might loose face again.
The significant North Indian population and Muslim voters will surely swing the tide in Congress's favour since they traditionally tend to vote for the party.
The NCP has faced tough times since its split from the Congress. Led by Sharad Pawar the party might go for a combine with others. S.P. led by Abu Azmi is the only party opposing the election date on grounds of Moharram. Incidently Moharram ends on Jan 30! And Mumbai polls are on 1st Feb.
Additionally city N.G.O.s have also jumped into the fray by pitching in their 'own' independant candidate. Nearly 48 NGOs as reported by the Mumbai Mirror have come together and chosen Mr. Adolf D'Souza as their candidate.
What effect this might have on the political fortunes of the various parties can only be found out on results day. The election process will begin on Jan 8th and wind up on Feb 9th. E.V.M.s are to be used for the first time for mid-term elections and 83 lakh (approx 83,80,000) people will be eligible to vote. The election results will be announced on Feb 3rd with the counting taking place the day before. There are 227 wards in Mumbai for which polling will take place of which 76 reserved from women.
BMC -> http://www.mcgm.gov.in/
Maharshtra Government -> http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/
State Election Commission -> http://stateelection.maharashtra.gov.in/
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