Campaigning for the crucial elections to the 227-seat BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ended this evening.
High stakes are involved in the elections to the corporation with an annual budget of Rs 22,000 crore.
For the ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), who are contesting in an alliance, the result would decide the fate of their partnership, ahead of 2014 Assembly elections. Ministers and leaders from both the parties were quite loud in hurling abuses and critising each other during the campaigning despite NCP chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar's call to exercise restraint.
NCP had not hidden its ambitions to emerge as the single largest party in the 288 member assembly.
As far as the NCP is concerned, the elections are crucial to consolidate its presence in Mumbai where the party's presence is insignificant. More importantly, for Pawar, whose friendship with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray is over four decades old, it is a time to convince voters that he or the NCP did not mix friendship with politics and was not having any back-stage understanding.
The February 16 elections will be an acid test for the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, too, which has been ruling the country's civic body for 16 years. Both parties have witnessed increasing pressure to try their luck by going solo in the coming Assembly elections.
The timing is crucial as two phases of polling in Uttar Pradesh is over and Congress hopes to improve its performance in the state.