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Panvel Municipal Council Elections 2011 – A Curtain Raiser report

Panvel Municipal Council might not be one of the strongest or richest municipal councils of the state but nonetheless the council elections to be held this year end are already raising temperatures in Panvel. With Prashant Thakur creating a historic win in Panvel in the last assembly elections, the elections are undoubtedly going to be a keen contest between the “rulers for decades” PWP and Congress, finds out Monika Bhosale after deliberating with experts.

Once upon a time, no one could challenge the hold of the Peasants and Workers party in Panvel. And perhaps that’s why the PWP have been ruling Panvel for decades. But with Ramsheth Thakur defecting from the PWP to join and the Congress and in-fighting and in-differences cropping up in PWP, things began changing. This was one of the reasons that created a major upset for the PWP when Prashant Thakur registered a historic win in the assembly elections of 2009 and for the first time Congress came into power in the Panvel constituency. That’s what makes the upcoming elections of the Panvel Municipal Council a keen battle to watch. Though all political parties began their homework earlier this year, the ward division process has increased the pace of preparations. During the ward division process, the 32 wards were divided into 10 wards. In these, 4 corporators will be elected from 8 wards each while 3 corporators will be elected from the remaining 2 wards.

While the battle will be a keen contest, journalist Kanti Kadu, who reports on PMC elections’, says it’s too early to declare any one political party holding a stronger position to win the council.

The ruling PWP might have had it easy in previous municipal council elections in Panvel but the situation today is different. This can be understood from the very fact that once a party that could go into elections alone has now formed a mahayuvti with the BJP, Shiv Sena and RPI to fight elections.

The ‘mahayuvti’ brings up another challenge for the PWP. That is with the list of aspirants wanting to fight the elections being long; ticket distribution will be a difficult task that might spring up rebellion within the mahayuvti.

The closest competitor for the mahayuvti in PMC elections is undoubtedly the Congress. Basking on the glory of their victory in the assembly elections, there is enthusiasm and confidence within the Congress unit in Panvel but they too have quite a few challenges to deal with. The first being the bitter battle between their state partner NCP. Who doesn’t remember how NCP withdrew support from the Congress during the President elections of Panvel Municipal Council when Prashant Thakur was defeated. Since then the Congress and NCP have been at war in Panvel, so chances of an alliance between the two for PMC elections is bleak.

However, political experts opine that the work done by Prashant Thakur when he was the President of PMC will be advantage for the Congress in the elections even if NCP decides to go alone in the polls.

The issues that is sure to form the main election agenda for the PMC elections are civic issues that haunt Panvel like water crisis, garbage menace and bad roads to name a few. Even the much hyped auditorium work has still not completed. However these factors could upset the chances of the mahayuvti candidates as it’s the PWP that has been ruling PMC for 50 long years and this reflects their failure to do justice to public issues in Panvel. And like any municipal corporation or municipal council, corruption is another major issue that plagues the functioning of PMC.

In all PMC elections so far, independents have played no major role and so far only 1 has managed to win an election. That in itself speaks how little a role independents will play in the elections. While it is difficult to predict who will win the race, one thing is crystal clear – the PMC elections is a battle of power and prestige between PWP MLA Vivek Patil led ‘mahayuvti” and Ramsheth Thakur led Congress and allies.

As Panvel Municipal Council nears elections, anti incumbency factor, failed promises and issues related to land acquisition may go against PWP and allies while Congress and allies are set to gain advantage as they are in power in the state and center, which promises to make more funds available for development and employment opportunities in Panvel. With Monika Bhosale, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.

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