MUMBAI -- Polling for the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and 9 other civic bodies across Maharashtra got underway this morning with estranged allies BJP and Shiv Sena at the forefront of this battle of might.
A total of 3.77 crore voters will determine the fate of 17,331 candidates for 3210 seats up for grabs in 10 municipal corporations, 11 zilla parishads and 118 panchayat samitis in the second phase of polls being seen as "mini general elections."
The stakes are high for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who have led their respective parties from the front and were involved in a high decibel and no holds barred campaign relegating the Opposition Congress and NCP to the background.
Polling began at 7.30 AM at 43,160 polling stations spread across the state.
The districts going to polls in the second phase are Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Pune, Solapur, Nashik, Amravati and Gadchiroli. Elections are being held in 118 panchayat samitis in these districts.
The ten municipal corporations include Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur.
As many as 43,160 polling booths have been set up. There will be 2.76 lakh election staff and equal number of police personnel on the duty.
More than 1.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the zilla parishads and panchayat samitis while 1.95 crore urban voters will in the ten Municipal corporations.
In Mumbai, the country's financial capital, there are 2275 candidates and 92 lakh voters. The election result for Asia's largest civic body which has been run by the Shiv Sena supported by the BJP for the last two decades will decide the fate of the Devendra Fadnavis government.
In municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, there are multi member wards where a voter will have to cast his vote for each of the category in the panel. Each panel has more than two wards.
The big poll focus is on 227-member Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), retaining control of which is vital for Shiv Sena as the city has remained its prime political space ever since the party's formation in 1966. Shiv Sena has been in power in BMC for over two decades.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday expressed confidence of securing a majority in the 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, despite facing a stiff competition from its ally Shiv Sena.
"This time the BJP will definitely get a majority, the people are with us and we have a commitment with the people. I am sure that under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP will get a majority and Narendra Modi's developmental model will be replicated in Mumbai," BJP leader Kirit Somaiya told ANI.
Somaiya further said that the people would not vote for Shiv Sena as it did nothing except for plundering the people of Mumbai.
"Shiv Sena is unable to face the people of Mumbai. For many years the Shiv Sena plundered people, so many scams took place, be it sanitation, drinking water facilities," he said.
The local body polls would be witnessing a high pitch battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiv Sena, the Congress, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Notably, the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP at the Centre and as well as at the Maharashtra Government, will be facing off with the latter after Uddhav Thackrey decided to part ways for the BMC polls.
Meanwhile, police has tightened security across the city ahead of Mumbai Municipal Corporations elections and are maintaining a strong vigil to avert any untoward incident across the 7,304 polling centres.
In order to prevent last minute luring of voters, Mumbai Police also conducted combing operations and checked vehicles with the help of flying squads of the state Election Commission.
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