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271 gram panchayats elect sarpanches in Maha
Mumbai: The results of 271 village gram panchayat (GP) elections were declared today. They are not authenticated or declared by the Maharashtra state election commission (SEC) on the basis of political symbols. SEC’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Kiran Kurundkar, has clarified, “The gram panchayat elections are neither discriminated on a political party basis nor from a party symbol basis. There is simply no data available to indicate the political affiliation of the winning candidates.” Friday saw the counting of votes limited to 271 GPs in Maharashtra, out of a total 27,500 GPs (villages) where elections are due. These elections were scheduled as they had been notified by the SEC following the Supreme Court’s insistence to hold elections in the GPs, where scheduled.
Counting of the results to these limited 271 GP elections were held at the taluka (town) level. Individual political party activists generated the data being circulated in the state on Friday that indicated that the Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis headed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had got 80-odd candidates elected as sarpanches (village heads). Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar won in 50-odd villages, while Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s rebel faction (with 40 rebel Shiv Sena and 10 independent MLAs) held sway in 40-odd villages in the polls. The Congress party managed to secure winning votes in 20-odd villages from its last political denominator party hierarchy. Additionally, 33 village sarpanches were elected unopposed but their party affiliations are still to be clarified by the individuals themselves. In some cases, villages decided to elect their heads without considering any political affiliation, simply as an en bloc decision.
However, during the 2014-2019 reign of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance government in Maharashtra, such GP elections generally indicated a trend where the ruling dispensation claimed a majority of the seats. This is indicative largely of the fact that villages generally tend to vote in candidates affiliated to the ruling dispensation, as it could ensure their village’s expectations on funding from the state government over development are met in real time. Although the BJP and the CM Shinde faction have apparently bagged (80+40) around 120 GPs, the NCP (55), Shiv Sena (Thackeray faction) (27), and Congress (22) have laid claim to around 105 GPs. This indicates the limited size of the GP elections saw an even fight and perhaps indicated a small measure of sympathy wave for the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.