The Congress on Thursday was firmly on way to re-capturing the Nanded-Waghala City Municipal Corporation (NWCMC), a stronghold of Maharashtra party chief Ashok Chavan, by bagging 30 of the 32 seats in the 81-seat body for which results had been announced.
The Congress had also built strong leads in at least another 25 seats in the NWCMC, which is now one of the last surviving bastions of the party in the state. Election to the civic body was held on Wednesday.
Among its main rivals, the Bharatiya Janata Party, trailed far behind – bagging just one seat and notching leads in another four – while the Shiv Sena bagged one seat as vote counting progressed.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which was earlier leading in one seat, was overtaken by the Congress candidate in this famed Sikh pilgrimage centre.
The Congress’ partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) failed to secure any leads, a State Election Commission (SEC) official said.
In the 2012 election, the Congress bagged 41 seats, Shiv Sena 14, AIMIM and NCP 10 each, BJP two while independents and others notched three seats.
“The return journey for the Congress in Maharashtra has begun in Nanded. The Congress wipes out BJP,” an elated Chavan tweeted.
He said the people of Nanded had “reposed full faith” in the developmental agenda of the Congress and deserved full credit for the party’s victory.
Both the Congress and the BJP had made it a battle of prestige to wrest control of the civic body in the city renowned for the Hazoor Sahib Gurudwara, which is one of the five holy Sikh Takhts and the resting place of Guru Gobind Singh.
For the first time in Maharashtra, the SEC deployed VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) voting machines in 31 polling centres in Ward No 2 as a pilot project in the elections which recorded a 65 per cent turnout.