Mumbai: Polling for the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and 9 other civic bodies across Maharashtra ended peacefully on Tuesday with estranged allies the Bhartia Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena at the forefront of this battle of might.
An electorate of 3.77 crore has put the seal on the fate of 17,331 candidates for 5,512 seats, including 1,268 in 10 municipal corporations, 2,956 in 11 Zilla Parishads and 1,288 seats in 118 Panchayat Samitis in the second and final phase of the polling being seen as "mini general elections."
The ten Municipal Corporations that went to polls today are Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur.
Besides the BJP and Shiv Sena, the parties in the fray are Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and others.
More than 1.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the zilla parishads and panchayat samitis while 1.95 crore urban voters will in the ten Municipal corporations.
By close of polling today evening, an estimated 50 per cent of Mumbai's 9.2 million (92 lakh) electorate had voted. Early voters included political leaders as well as Bollywood actors.
The country's commercial capital and the richest civic body has generally recorded a dismal voter turnout.
But the encouraging turnout prompted Fadnavis to tweet: "Thank you Mumbai for the record voting percentage and ... for participating in festival of democracy!"
Controlled by the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for four terms, the BMC has a budget of Rs 37,052 crore for the current year (2016-17) catering to a population of around 18.30 million.
Of the total 227 seats in the BMC, the Shiv Sena had won 75 of the 227 seats last time, with the BJP winning 31, the Congress 52 and the NCP 13.
The stakes are high for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who have led their respective parties from the front and were involved in a high decibel and no holds barred campaign relegating the Opposition Congress and NCP to the background.
In Mumbai, the country's financial capital, there are 2275 candidates and 92 lakh voters. The election result for Asia's largest civic body which has been run by the Shiv Sena supported by the BJP for the last two decades will decide the fate of the Devendra Fadnavis government.
This is the first time the fate of a state government could rest on the outcome of a municipal election, given the bitterness between the BJP and Shiv Sena in the run up to the polls.
An aggressive Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray has put the BJP government "on notice period" and said he would decide whether to continue the state-level alliance after the results on Thursday.
Since Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar has ruled out support in such an eventuality and predicted mid-term assembly polls, the Fadnavis government will be reduced to a minority.
This is the second part of civic elections in Maharashtra. In the first part held over four days ago, the BJP emerged as a major gainer, making significant inroads in the Congress and NCP's traditional strongholds.
In municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, there are multi member wards where a voter will have to cast his vote for each of the category in the panel. Each panel has more than two wards.
Votes will be counted on Thursday.