**Mumbai:** Senior Shiv Sena leader and former college Principal Vishwanath P. Mahadeshwar was on Wednesday elected the 76th Mayor of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, the country’s biggest and the richest civic body.
He defeated his lone opponent, Congresss’ Vithhal Lokare, by bagging 171 votes against his rival’s 31 in the 227-member BMC house.
A former principal of Raje Sambhaji Vidyalaya and Junior College in Santacruz East, Mahadeshwar, 56, is a three-time municipal corporator from Bandra.
With his election, the Shiv Sena’s hold over the Mayor’s post continues for the fifth consecutive term.
Earlier on WEdnesday afternoon, Mahadeshwar secured the vote easily, as members of the Sena’s former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) voted in his favour.
However, the opposition Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s seven corporators remained absent from the house and Samajwadi Party’s six corporators were present but abstained from voting.
Earlier efforts by the opposition to unite with a common agenda of defeating the BJP failed to materialise following Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ announcement four days ago that he was withdrawing his party from the mayoral race.
Present during the election were outgoing Mayor Snehal Ambekar, as well as Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and other senior leaders and officials.
The voting was preceeded by a massive show of strength, singing, dancing and music by the Shiv Sena activists outside the BMC headquarters in south Mumbai, but inside the house, the party voice was drowned by BJP corporators’ thunderous chants of “Modi, Modi”.
Four days back, the BJP abruptly withdrew from the mayoral race and decided to keep away from any other post like Deputy Mayor, or other major committees or sit in the opposition in the BMC.
The BMC elections last month threw a sharply fractured verdict, with the Shiv Sena emerging as the single largest party with 84 corporators, followed closely by the BJP second with 82. The Congress won 31 seats, NCP nine, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena seven, Samajwadi Party six, AIMIM two, Akhil Bharatiya Sena just one, and Independents five seats.