Nanded (Maharashtra), Oct 15 (IANS) In a significant morale-booster, the Congress Monday retained the Nanded Municipal Corporation while the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) stunned political circles by an impressive performance in the civic elections.
The Congress bagged 41 out of the total 81 seats in Nanded Municipal Corporation, up from 37 in the outgoing house which it administered with the support of some independents.
In another attention-grabber, Hyderabad-based AIMIM, which had contested 25 seats, won 13. An independent was also declared a winner.
Nanded is the hometown and base of former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who was forced to quit his post two years ago after his name was embroiled in the Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai.
Chavan has been credited as the architect behind the party's unexpected showing in the hotly-contested elections held Sunday, prompting state party chief Manikrao Thakre to thump his (Chavan's) back.
"It was good team-work and it's the Congress's victory. The charges against Ashok Chavan are yet to be proved," Thakre told the media Monday evening.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) allied with the Congress at the state and centre, contested the elections alone and bagged 10 seats.
The Shiv Sena secured 14 seats and its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won two seats, while the Republican Party of India failed to open its account.
A relieved Chavan magnanimously gave the credit for the party's huge win to "teamwork" among the grassroots workers and "inspiration and stress on the developmental issues by our leader Sonia Gandhi".
NCP leader Pratap Chikhlikar countered Ashok Chavan's claims by alleging the Congress had used "money power" to win the elections.
Ashok Chavan, who has maintained a low profile after being forced to quit, has been quietly strengthening his position in Nanded and the backward Marathwada region, hoping to become an alternative to former union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who passed away two months ago.
The poll outcome is expected to hasten the rehabilitation of Ashok Chavan.
The Nanded elections saw campaigning by top Congress leaders like Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, Industry Minister Narayan Rane, other leaders and ministers.
From the NCP side, former deputy chief minister and senior leader Ajit Pawar and other top officials had wooed the voters.
From the opposition's side, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, his son Aditya and BJP leaders Gopinath Munde and Vinod Tawde had also campaigned for the elections.
The opposition's poll issues, including the Adarsh Society scam, the mining scam and corruption, apparently failed to cut ice with the voters who stuck to the Congress.
Sultan Sabahuddin Owaisi, AIMIM MP from Hyderabad, who vigorously campaigned for his candidates, used the anti-Congress plank, saying that the Congress had consistently ignored the Muslim community except using it as a vote bank.
Nanded, with a significant Sikh population, is home to the revered shrine Takhat Sri Hazoor Sahib, where the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh had breathed his last.