Maha’s mini-general polls to test Thackeray’s MVA govt

Mumbai, A mini-general election at the grassroots level was completed without major incidents in 14,234 Gram Panchayats across 34 of Maharashtra’s 36 districts (except Mumbai and Mumbai Suburban districts), officials said on Friday.

Though the voting percentages were still being tabulated, Maharashtra State Election Commission officials said the response was “overwhelming”, especially from women and youth, though district-level tentative figures ranged from 50-60 per cent turnout.

The results of the elections – in which local issues intertwined with state concerns dominated – will be declared on Monday.

This is the first major grassroots electoral challenge before the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray since it assumed office 15 months ago.

Candidates from all the major national parties, state parties, regional parties and local parties besides independents were in the fray for the crucial elections, the outcome of which is considered a litmus test for the MVA government’s popularity and performance.

In many villages, the voters turned out enthusiastically in groups to the voting booths to elect a total of 124,810 members of their respective Gram Panchayats.

Several prominent state politicians from various political parties specially travelled down to their native villages to exercise their franchise in the local polls.

Barring minor skirmishes or group clashes among workers of rival political parties in some villages, the elections passed off peacefully amid tight security and maintaining full Covid-19 protocols.

All voters wearing face-masks were guided to queue outside polling stations maintaining adequate physical distance, their temperatures were checked before they were allowed inside the polling booth, MSEC CEO U.P.S. Madan said.

Those with fluctuations in their body temperatures were again measured after some time and if their readings were not normal, tokens were handed over asking them to return after the voting hour for a special 30-minute voting window, Madan added.

The elections for many of the Gram Panchayats were due at various points in 2020, but were postponed in view of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown in the state.

Of the 14,234 Gram Panchayats, Nanded had the highest – 1,015 villages going to polls, and the lowest figure was three in Wardha.

The other district-wise figures included: Wardha 50, Sindhudurg 70, Nandurbar 87, Raigad 88, Beed 129, Nagpur 130, Bhandara 148, Sangli 152, Thane 158, Washim 163, Gondiya 189, Dhule 218, Akola 225, Gadchiroli 362, Latur  553, Parbhani 566, Aurangabad 618, Nashik 621, Chandrapur 629, Solapur 658, Pune 748, Ahmednagar 767, Jalgaon 783, Satara 879, and Yavatmal 980.

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