High voltage Maharashtra municipal poll campaign ends

February 14th, 2012 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Mumbai, Feb 14 (IANS) The curtains came down Tuesday on one of the most brutal poll campaigns in recent times by all major political parties - for Thursday’s elections to the 10 municipal corporations of Maharashtra.

The no-holds-barred campaign spared neither the parties nor their respective allies, both in the ruling and opposition camps.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan led the Congress brigade in attacking the opposition in an attempt to bag a majority in the 10 civic bodies. He was lent support by state party chief Manikrao Thakre and ministers like Narayan Rane, besides parliamentarians Sanjay Nirupam and Gurudas Kamat and others.

The campaign also saw an ageing Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray shuffling into the campaign ring to boost his party’s fortunes - he addressed two rallies, one each in Mumbai and Thane.

Similarly, top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) like state unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar and leaders of opposition in the legislature Eknath Khadse (assembly) and Vinod Tawde (council) engaged in shooting verbal darts at the Congress, its ally the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and at times even the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of Raj Thackeray.

Not to be outdone, the NCP saw its chief and union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar making a few appearances, and his nephew and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Home Minister R.R. Patil and other top leaders strongly campaigning to woo the voters.

Given the below-the-belt levels and direct targeting of leaders, Sharad Pawar, Thakre and Chief Minister Chavan appealed to their flock to maintain ‘restraint’ during the campaign - but their calls mostly fell on deaf ears.

Rane spoke of disrobing (’vastraharan’) his bĂȘte-noire the Shiv Sena and the NCP. He alleged that “NCP is a party of goons” at a rally in Pune, and claimed that Shiv Sena would be “wiped out” after the civic elections.

Another ‘civil’ war that rivetted the electorate concerned the Thackeray trio - Bal Thackeray, his son Uddhav and estranged nephew Raj Thackeray.

The two senior Thackerays never missed any opportunity to hit out at the younger Raj, who is making efforts to improve the MNS’ tally and, despite a handful of seats, emerge as a ‘kingmaker’ after the election results. It’s a possibility that has alarmed all the other four major parties in the fray - Congress, NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena.

The stage is set for the Thursday’s elections to 1,244 seats, including 624 for women, in Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Nashik, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur municipal corporations that together have an electorate of 3.5 crore.

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