Congress-NCP combine's bid to wrest control of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation today appeared coming to a nought with the country's richest civic body's ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance set to emerge as the largest bloc.
With results and trends available so far from 214 of the 227 wards in Mumbai, the Sena has won or is leading in 71 wards, BJP in 27, Congress 45, NCP 16, MNS 27 and others 27.
Though the BMC results appear likely to throw up a hung House, the state's ruling Congress-NCP combine seems nowhere near the half-way mark to enable it to rule the Mumbai civic body, which has an annual budget of over 21,000 crore, more than many states.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who had claimed before the polls that Shiv Sena and its leader Bal
Thackeray will be rendered irrelevant once the results were out, seems to have overestimated the Mumbaikar's eagerness to get rid of the 16-year "misrule" of the saffron alliance.
The techno-savvy politician, who was despatched to Maharashtra after his predecessor Ashok Chavan had to step down in the wake of the Adarsh Housing Society scam, had painstakingly stitched up an alliance with NCP for the BMC poll in order to avoid split in secular votes.
What had prompted Chavan to cobble together an alliance with NCP for the Mumbai civic body poll was the fact that in the last elections, the votes polled by the Congress and NCP, which had then contested the BMC poll separately, if added, would have yielded 132 seats. "Hence, getting a simple majority of 114 seats in the 227-member BMC should not be difficult," Chavan had said.
Chavan had been saying that MNS support base, which has widened markedly since the 2007 BMC poll, would benefit the Congress-led Democratic Front, as the Raj Thackeray-led party would into eat into the Sena-BJP votes as in the past.