Civic polls: Sangli, Jalgaon record 58% turnout
The polls to the Jalgaon and Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad civic bodies in Maharashtra witnessed an average turnout of 58% on Wednesday.According to election authorities, the Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation (SMKMC) in western the part of the State recorded an estimated 60% turnout while the Jalgaon Municipal Corporation (JMC) in the northern part recorded 55%.There are 451 candidates in the fray for the 78-seat SMKMS and 303 for the 75 seats in JMC.There were 4,24,179 eligible voters for the Sangli civic body and 3,65,072 for the JMC. A total of 1,013 polling booths were set up in the two cities and nearly 5,800 election staff deployed, said State Election Commissioner J.S. Saharia. The counting is to take place on Friday.Polling commenced at 7.30 a.m. and was generally peaceful, except for stray incidents of unrest at some booths. In ward no. 11 in Sangli, former Mayor Kishore Shah was detained by the police following allegations of distributing cash, while in Jalgaon, a vehicle said to be carrying cash to be distributed to voters was seized by the police. The ruling BJP is trying to gain control of both the civic bodies. BJP leader and State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan has allied with Shiv Sena leader Suresh Jain’s local front, the Khandesh Vikas Aghadi (KVA) which currently rules the JMC. If he wins, Mr. Mahajan could cement his ascendancy over Eknath Khadse, who has hitherto been regarded as the BJP’s face in North Maharashtra.Mr. Jain (73), who is Mr. Khadse’s rival in Jalgaon, is an influential politico and a nine-time legislator. He was a minister in the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP government that was in power between 1995 and 99. He was arrested in March 2012 in connection with the ‘Gharkul’ housing scheme scam.As a member of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 2004, Mr. Jain was the State’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister and later defected to Shiv Sena ticket in 2009 and won again.Meanwhile, in the SMKMC, the Congress and the NCP have joined hands to take on the BJP which is targeting the ‘sugar belt’ dominated by NCP and Congress politicos.In 2008, the NCP came together with local BJP leaders to snatch power from the Congress in the civic corporation. In 2013, the Congress wrested the civic body back from the NCP.