The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) impressive performance in 25 Zilla Parishads and 283 Panchayat Samitis has elevated it to number one position among the four major political parties in the State. It previously stood at number four.As per results made available by State Election Commission (SEC), BJP topped the chart by winning 406 seats out of 1,509 which went to polls. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) steps down to second position with 360 seats and Congress to third from its previous second with 309 seats.Despite the tough fight it offered the BJP in Mumbai and Thane, Sena finds itself at number four with 271 seats.In 2012, the seats won by NCP, Congress, Sena and BJP were 511, 419, 243 and 165 respectively.“Our wins have made us more humble than ever before. Now it is our responsibility to deliver on the promises that we made,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said after the victory on Thursday.Spectacular performanceThe BJP’s spectacular performance can be gauged from the fact that except for Jalgaon, Jalna, Beed, Wardha and Chandrapur the party could not reach double digit mark in 2012.While it retained dominance in Jalgaon, Jalna, Wardha and Chandrapur it wrested Congress strongholds Latur in Marathwada and Sangli in western Maharashtra.The BJP also managed to dent the Congress bastion of Kolhapur and Ahmednagar.For the Congress, the polls have turned out to be a forgettable affair. Except for senior leader Narayan Rane’s hometown of Sindhudurg and State unit chief Ashok Chavan’s home pitch Nanded, it does not enjoy any power on its own.Consolation win for NCPIn Pune, though the BJP all but routed other major political players in the municipal corporations, the NCP managed to retain the ZP, bagging 41 of the 75 seats. The Shiv Sena came second, winning 13 while the BJP secured only six seats.“The results of the ZP and Panchayat Samiti elections prove we still have the support of the rural voters in Pune district. Likewise, in the case of Satara and Ahmednagar,” said NCP MP Supriya Sule.The NCP coasted along in the Satara ZP, winning 34 of 64 seats. It emerged as the single-largest party in the Solapur ZP as well, winning 23 of the 68 seats. The BJP came second here, securing 15 seats.But the NCP’s brightest spot was a small upset it managed in Marathwada, by denting the BJP’s base in Beed, winning 25 of the 60 seats.This setback for BJP leader Pankaja Munde on her home-turf caused her to offer to resign soon after the results were announced.The chief architect of Ms. Munde’s defeat was her estranged cousin, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde, which made her defeat personal.In fact, both the NCP and the Congress made decent gains in Zilla Parishad elections in the Marathwada division. The NCP won the Osmanabad ZP, snaring 26 of the 55 seats.The Congress came off even worse than the NCP in the municipal polls. It performed abysmally in the Solapur Municipal Corporation and was routed in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, where it failed to open its account.Yet, as consolation, it emerged as the single-largest party in the Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad poll, winning 20 of the 72 seats. The NCP came a close second bagging 17 seats.Another commendable win was in the Konkan region, where the Congress scored an absolute majority in the Sindhudurg Zilla Parishad, winning 27 of the 50 seats.Century for GadkariIn Nagpur, the BJP has become the first party to get a clear majority in 40 years.Despite being at the helm of the Nagpur Municipal Council in the last two terms, and was dependant on other parties for outside support.“I was expecting 80 to 85 seats but 108 out of 151 is a great victory,” Union Minister and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari told reporters at his residence on Thursday.According to political observers, infighting in the Congress was one of the main reasons for the BJP’s victory.Until 2014, Nagpur was a Congress bastion. In the Lok Sabha elections that year Mr. Gadkari defeated seven-time Congress MP from Nagpur, Vilas Muttemwar, by 2,84,000 votes. In the Assembly elections four months later, the BJP defeated Congress in all six Assembly segments.
NAGPUR: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected a petition filed by Nagpur Congress president Vikas Thakre demanding recognition of his nominated membership of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).A Division Bench of Justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Arun Upadhyay refused to admit Mr. Thakre’s petition challenging the election of Congress leader Kishor Jichkar as a nominated member of the NMC.Mr. Jichkar’s nomination was supported by a rebel Congress group, which had revolted against the party’s city unit and appointed its own leader of Opposition in the NMC earlier this year. Seventeen of the 29 Congress corporators were recognised as the original Congress group by the Nagpur Divisional Commissioner. The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had also endorsed Tanaji Wanve’s appointment as the leader of Opposition by rejecting the city Congress’s petition challenging it.Mr. Thakre had alleged in his petition that his nomination to the NMC was the legal one as the rebel group was yet to be recognised by the Divisional Commissioner when he had filed his nomination. After Thursday’s ruling, he plans to move the Supreme Court. Both claim BJP hand“This is the BJP’s conspiracy to divide the Congress. They are scared that I would expose their scandals on the floor of the House. If this is allowed, everywhere people will walk away from the party and form their separate groups. The party will take action against the rebel group,” he told The Hindu.The rebel group, however, alleged that the revolt was forced because of Mr. Thakre and his mentor and former Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar’s “high-handedness”. “Under Mr. Thakre’s leadership, the party performed dismally in the NMC election earlier this year, and he lost his own seat. He was given a ticket to contest the Assembly election and lost, but still continues to be the city chief. How can one person be allowed to have a complete say in matters when he failed in elections continuously?” a corporator from the rebel group asked.He said, “Mr. Thakre has a secret understanding with the BJP and has weakened the Nagpur Congress. Our revolt has kept the real Congress alive in Nagpur.”
Days after two tourists from Kashmir sustained injuries following a brawl with locals in Shimla’s tourist spot Kufri, the Himachal Pradesh police on Monday denied the “mob lynching angle” in the case. The police said initial investigation has revealed that a fight broke out between Zaffar Iqbal and Arshad Aziz and a group of people who ply horses at Kufri. An FIR regarding the incident was registered at the Dhalli police station on January 10. The police are yet to make any arrests in the case. “Zaffar Iqbal and Arshad Aziz from Poonch district of J&K, who had come to Kufri on a trip, got into a confrontation with a group of horse owners. Following an argument, blows were exchanged from both sides,” Investigating Officer Dharam Singh said. “Investigation is under way. The initial probe revealed that there was no mob lynching angle or use of any racial slurs against them. We are waiting for the final opinion on the medical report. Once we receive the report, we will make arrests if required under the law,” he said, adding that one of the horse owners also got injured during the fight. “We recovered the licensed revolver of Zaffar, which, the horse owners alleged, was used to fire in the air. Both men were later released on bail,” Mr. Singh added. For his part, Iqbal said he and his two friends reached Shimla on January 9. They planned to drive down to Kufri from Shimla, about 16 km away, but were not allowed to use their private vehicle.“We later booked a cab. However, the cab organisers kept jumping the queue and delayed our journey without furnishing any reasons. When we raised the matter, a furious mob comprising drivers and ponywallas started beating us up. We were told ‘this is not Kashmir’. We feared for our lives. I pulled out my licensed pistol and fired in the air to save our lives. We were bleeding and were again beaten up while being taken to the police station,” said Mr. Aziz, who runs his own business in New Delhi.‘Disheartening’ Mr. Aziz said such acts of mob violence at a tourist place like Shimla was disheartening. “I appeal to the police to act against those who attempted to kill us,” he said.
After guiding India to the World Cup final with an useful knock of 85, Sachin Tendulkar simply can’t wait to play one of the biggest matches of his illustrious career at his home ground in Mumbai.”It will be a wonderful occasion to play the final in Mumbai. All we would like is to remain calm and focussed and get the job done,” the man-of-the-match against Pakistan said at the post-match presentation ceremony.For someone who has been a member of the side that has won all its five World Cup matches against Pakistan, the legendary batsman was quick to admit that it would be a “memory that he would always cherish.”Someone who has always put the team before individual performance, Tendulkar lavished praise on young Suresh Raina whose unbeaten 36 provided necessary impetus during the death overs.”Raina played a special knock. When we started batting, I felt that 310-315 was par-score. But as the spinners came on the ball was stopping and coming. Then I thought that 265-270 will be a good score to defend,” Tendulkar stated.For him Virender Sehwag’s blitzkrieg at the onset gave him and others that extra bit of time to check out on how to proceed with the innings.”Viru got us off to a flier but then we needed to assess the situation. It was a difficult wicket to bat on and we needed to put up a good score. Full credit to our bowlers as they put up a fabulous show.”Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also spoke in the same vein about how the wicket slowly became difficult to bat on as the match progressed.advertisement”If you take the opening partnership out, you would find that 260 was a good score to defend. May be we could have got another 20-30 runs,” was what the skipper assessed.The skipper admitted that his reading of the pitch was wrong but his seamers did a good job.”We read the pitch wrong but then our seamers bowled exceptionally well. That is why I didn’t need to use a sixth bowler. We don’t have any bowler who regularly hits 140 plus.”We have bowlers who have variations and can change plan accordingly. Ashish is a rhythm bowler and Zak (Zaheer) is really good with his variation. Even Munaf’s strength is bowling wicket to wicket as he has become really smart after playing in IPL.”Dhoni who has already led India to World T20 triumph back in 2007, said that his team is “ready for final.””It was important to peak at the right time. That’s the beauty of this game. But it’s important to do well on that particular day.”Dhoni’s counterpart Shahid Afridi was a dejected man at the end of it all.”I congratulate India for this win and wish them all the best for the final. But I should give credit to my boys for their performance. I am proud to lead these bunch of guys.”He praised Wahab Riaz who grabbed five for 46. “Wahab really bowled well.”But the skipper was critical about his batsmen. “The key would have been partnerships and we couldn’t get going. Also we played a few responsible shots. In the end, they played better cricket than us,” Afridi was forthright in his evaluation.About the decision not to take Powerplay till the end, Afridi said,”We thought that we would take the Powerplay when Bhajji would have finished his spell.”The Pakistan captain in the end “apologised” to the nation for letting them down.- With PTI inputs