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Maharashtra civic polls will be test for Smart Cities project

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Elections to the 10 municipal corporation across Maharashtra on February 21 could also be a reflection on how the Smart Cities mission undertaken by the Centre and the state government has been accepted by the public. Though the elections to civic bodies are often pitched on the local issues such as drinking water, roads and garbage, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made the mega projects costing Rs 10 lakh crore an integral part of the civic polls across Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amaravati, Nagpur and Nashik.Whether it is Rs 1.06 lakh crore projects for Mumbai, a Rs 3,500-crore drinking water project for Akola, the Rs 3,700-crore textile hub in Amaravati, or the Rs 11,500-crore Metro Rail project in Pune, the ruling BJP made development plank the mainstay of its campaigning that came to an end Sunday. As a result, despite its autonomous status, every civic body has been linked to the overall development undertaken by the Centre and the state.

In fact, the top leadership of all mainstream parties — Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP — evoked the development agenda in varying degrees across these ten cities. Challenges for the BJP are aplenty in these ten cities where it had won 205 seats out of the total 1,244 seats in 2012. The NCP had scored maximum with 265 seats, followed by Congress (264), Shiv Sena (227) and MNS (112). As many as 74 seats went to independents, while BSP won 25, CPI(M) 6 and others 66. The BJP held the remote only in Nagpur with absolute majority. Thus, it remains to be seen if the party ruling the state is able to wrest powers in the nine civic bodies. Among the ten civic bodies, Sena was leading in Mumbai and Thane, Congress in Solapur and Amravati, NCP in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Ulhasnagar, and MNS in Nashik.

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