[Congress candidate Irfan Ali Abid Ali sporting a victory sign after winning the Malegaon Municipal Corporation elections in 2012 (File photo ummid.com)]
Malegaon: With an aim to control power of the Malegaon Municipal Corporation (MMC), the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded for the first time in its history 77 candidates for the May 24 elections, and in a direct challenge to the Congress and NCP-Janata Dal alliance, has given party tickets to 57 Muslims.
A total of 373 candidates from different political groups including independent candidates are in the fray in Malegaon where polling to elect 84-member new civic body is slated for May 24. Counting of votes will be done on May 26 and the results will be declared on the same day.
According to the final list of candidates released by Presiding Officer Ravendra Jagtap, the BJP's tally of 77 contestants is the maximum in the city.
The Congress party which has fielded 73 candidates is next to the BJP in terms of number of candidates fielded for the Malegaon MMC elections 2017.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which has its Mayor currently has formed alliance with Janata Dal (Secular) to contest the Malegaon municipal elections. The NCP-Janata Dal (S) alliance has fielded a total of 66 candidates.
Others in th race to capture power in Malegaon are the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) of Asaduddin Owaisi which has fielded 37 candidates followed by Shiv Sena's 25 candidates and Samajwadi Party's five candidates. The number of independent candidates contesting the Malegaon civic elections is 101.
The elections in Malegaon will be held only for 83 seats as Keshwari Khatoon of the Congress party has been elected to the new body unopposed.
A total of 3,91,320 voters will exercise their democratic rights to elect as many as 84 Corporators in 21 wards of Malegaon Municipal Corporation (MMC) election for which is likely to be held any time in the coming two months.
This will be the first time in Malegaon when panel-wise election will be held. Under this system, each registered voter will cast votes to elect four members in a ward.
Earlier a total of 444 candidates had submitted some 780 nomination papers. Of them 373 candidates have decided to contest the Malegaon local elections after the last date to withdraw names.
Malegaon is dominated by Muslims where their population is more than 75% of the total. The city in itself is divided in Hindu and Muslim majority areas.
Out of the total 84 seats, some 20 seats are in Hindu majority areas, rest all seats in the Muslim dominated eastern part of the city. The 57 Muslims fielded by the BJP are mostly contesting the elections in Muslim dominated areas. It will be hence interesting to see how many of them finally win the elections.