Thakurs stay kings of Vasai-Virar
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The Thakur family that dominates politics in Vasai-Virar overcame a challenge from Shiv Sena-backed MLA Vivek Pandit, sweeping the first-ever polls to the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation that includes Virar, Vasai, Nalasopara, Navghar and Manikpur.
The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), led by former Vasai MLA Hitendra Thakur (brother of Vasai strongman Bhai Thakur), won 55 of the 89 seats, compared to 19 for Pandit's Lokahitawadi Leader Party. One of the BVA's candidates had already won unopposed.
The Shiv Sena and BJP won three and one seats respectively, while Raj Thackeray's MNS too won one. The Congress won two seats and Independents eight.
The NCP, for which leaders like Home Minister R.R Patil and state unit chief Madhukarrao Pichad had campaigned during the polls, drew a blank.
Pichad admitted, "We had no presence in the region. In the past, we used to back the Thakurs as Congressmen. Now, though we have not won a single seat, our party has at least reached out to local voters in 50 wards where we contested. In future we'll strengthen our party and win seats."
Hitendra Thakur, whose BVA has two MLAs and an MP in Thane district, has dominated the region's politics for nearly two decades, having won the Assembly seat in 1990, 1995, 1999 and 2004.
He and his brother have allegedly built an empire in the region, part of Mumbai's extended suburbs, on muscle power and the real estate boom.
Thakur had opted out of contesting the Assembly polls last year; his son Kshitij represents the Nalasopara constituency and BVA nominee Vilas Tare the neighbouring Boisar seat, while the BVA's Baliram Jadhav has the Palghar Lok Sabha seat.
Pandit had opposed the inclusion of 53 villages in the municipal corporation and launched a hunger strike to demand their deletion.