NCP today sought to play down the BJP's impressive performance in the just held elections to 164 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats in Maharashtra, saying the saffron party's vote share has actually dropped as compared to 2014 Assembly polls in these local bodies.
The Sharad Pawar-led party claimed BJP's vote share had dipped from 42 per cent in 2014 Assembly polls to 22 per cent in the first phase of 164 Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat polls, whose results are pouring in since yesterday.
Addressing a press conference here, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said BJP's performance should be compared to its gains made in 2014 and not the 2011 local body results.
"BJP cannot say there is a surge in its favour as compared to its figures in 2011 polls in these local bodies. After 2011, there was a Modi wave whose effects were felt in the 2014 Assembly polls. So, results of these local body polls should be compared to BJP's show in 2014," he said.
Seen in this context, BJP's vote share had dipped in these elections, while that of NCP, an Opposition party, rose from 14 per cent in 2014 to 25 per cent now, Malik said.
"The State Election Commission (SEC) is yet to officially declare results. How can it be said that BJP has made a surge in the local body polls?" he asked.
As per the data provided by the NCP district units, Malik said BJP has won 815 seats and NCP 684. Also, candidates contesting on NCP symbol and 166 councillors belonging to NCP led local outfits have won. This takes the NCP tally to 850, Malik said.
BJP won 52 municipal president posts, while NCP bagged 27. 19 other candidates won on NCP symbol, while eight were from party-led local outfits, he said.
Acknowledging that the decision to go for direct election for municipal president posts benefited the BJP, Malik said, "In the 52 municipalities where the BJP candidates got elected as President, the party has majority in only 22.
In 2001, the Congress-NCP had also taken a decision for direct election to municipal presidents. The main reason behind this was to stop horse-trading, but it was seen that the move hampered development works. So after five years, the decision was scrapped, he said.
Asked whether the results would have been better for the Opposition if there was an alliance between NCP and Congress, Malik said his party always favoured an alliance, but there was no unanimity in the latter on the issue.
Malik accused BJP of using Hyderabad-based party AIMIM in parts of Marathwada to polarise voters.
The NCP leader attributed BJP's victory to "misuse" of administrative machinery and money power.