The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Dhule Municipal Corporation (DMC) polls winning 51 of the 74 seats. However, ally Shiv Sena, sprung a surprise to emerge as the largest party in Ahmednagar winning 22 of the 68 seats.The BJP trounced all opposition in Dhule to seize the civic body in a win reminiscent of its victories in Jalgaon and Sangli civic elections in August this year. The party contested only 62 seats in Dhule and won 51, a massive improvement from its three seats in 2013.In Dhule, the BJP’s biggest threat, rebel legislator Anil Gote came a cropper with his faction, contesting under the banner of Lok Sangram party won only one seat.The Congress-NCP combine won 14 seats while the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which fielded candidates from 13 seats, bagged three seats in a creditable debut in Dhule civic elections. Sena got two seats.“The people of Dhule have placed their trust in the BJP. There was no factionalism within our party during our campaign,” said Girish Mahajan, poll in-charge for the Dhule civic body.“The public has voted for the BJP to bring about development and change, and clearly rejected the corrupt NCP-Congress,” said Subhash Bhamre, Dhule’s BJP MP who is also the Union Minister of State (MoS) for Defence.The BJP threw everything into the fight to win the Dhule and Ahmednagar cvic bodies including public rallies by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in both districts.Larger issues like the impact of the Maratha reservation to pressing developmental problems were relegated to oblivion in a campaign marked by money and muscle power.Reacting to his party’s poor performance, Mr. Gote alleged that the BJP had won Dhule by inducting criminals, distributing money on a large scale and tampering with EVMs.“This [win] is not any achievement of the BJP…It marks a black day for Dhule’s public which has been hoodwinked by the ruling party. Of the 62 BJP candidates 57 have been imported from other parties. Of these 28 are history-sheeters, while 14 are hardcore criminals. What kind of governance is the BJP planning to give?” Mr. Gote said. Sympathy wave?However, the BJP floundered in Ahmednagar where the Sena with its 22 seats has emerged as the single largest party and power broker. The Congress and the NCP, contesting jointly, has won 25 seats while the BJP has been pushed to third place, winning only 14 seats – an improvement from nine in 2013.The BJP will now have to ally itself with the Sena if it wants to secure power in Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation (AMC).Commenting on a possible alliance with the BJP, senior Sena leader and former MLA Anil Rathod said his party may consider “forging a coalition with BJP old-timers”.The double murder of two Shiv Sena leaders in April this year also cast a shadow in Ahmednagar civic poll dictated largely by clan antagonisms.In contrast to the BJP, no top leader campaigned for Sena in Ahmednagar which saw the latter party riding on a minor sympathy wave as a result of the double murder.The BJP top gun in Ahmednagar, Dilip Gandhi, MP, received a major setback with his son and daughter-in-law both losing heavily. A surprise however, was sprung by former BJP leader and AMC’s ex-deputy mayor Shripad Chhindam, who won by 2,000 votes. Mr. Chhindam was in the eye of a storm in February for alleged derogatory remarks against Chhatrapati Shivaji.While the counting was largely peaceful, there were stray instances of scuffle between party activists and the police in both districts, resulting in mild lathi charge by security personnel at the counting centres.