Amid incessant media campaign and Opposition criticism of the Modi government’s financial policies and its impact on rural economy, here is a shot in the arm for the BJP. It fared quite impressively in the phase I of the gram panchayat elections in the all-important state of Maharashtra.

The first phase of elections were held for 2974 out of 3489 gram panchayats in 16 districts of Konkan and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. Of these the BJP won 1457, registering impressive performances in Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Ahmed Nagar, Jalna, Latur, Akola and Vashim.

The Congress came a distant second with just 301. Shiv Sena, which has been strident in its criticism of the BJP, got just 222, while Sharad Pawar’s NCP got 191. Independents won 172. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah congratulated the Maharashtra BJP’s conclusive victory.

For the second phase, polling for 3,692 gram panchayats spread over 16 districts would be held on 14 October and the votes would be counted on 16 October.