MUMBAI: As the country’s richest civic body – Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – votes today along with nine other municipal corporations in Maharashtra, the stakes are high for the BJP and Shiv Sena – the friend-turned opponents in the state. The Shiv Sena, which had been ruling the BMC with the BJP for several years, decided to fight elections alone this time after a falling apart with its long-time ally over the seat-sharing issue. BMC is the most cash rich corporation in the country with an annual budget of 37,000 crores. A political battle between the BJP and the Shiv Sena ahead of the civic polls has deteriorated the relationship between the parties and the results could also change the course of the state’s affairs. In the second phase of elections to civic bodies in Maharashtra today, a total of 10 major civic bodies, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and of Nagpur, Thane, Pune and Nashik, plus 11 Zilla Parishads and 118 Panchayat Samitis are polling. At total of 3.77 crore voters will decide the fate of 17,331 candidates for 5,512 seats up for grabs, including 1,268 in 10 municipal corporations, 2,956 in 11 Zilla Parishads and 1,288 seats in 118 Panchayat Samitis. Over 40,000 polling booths – manned by around 2.76 lakh officials – have been set up across the state. “The election machinery is fully geared up and we shall ensure free and fair voting across the state,” State Election Commissioner JS Saharia said. In Mumbai, there will be 7,304 polling booths for the 9.20 million strong electorate. They will vote from among 2,275 candidates vying for the 227 seats in the BMC. Major players in the state have been engaged in high-decibel campaign with former partners the BJP and Shiv Sena leading a bitter campaign in the run-up to the polls. The BJP has targeted the Sena for corruption in the BMC and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis vowed to “rip apart corruption” from the body. Confident of winning the civic body elections, Chief Minister Fadnavis said, “If the BJP loses, I’ll take the responsibility and if we win credit goes to the party.” Former partners Sena and BJP fell apart over the seat-sharing issue with the BJP demanding higher number of seats to contest given its “growing clout” in Mumbai, which Sena considers its bastion. The Shiv Sena, which broke off its alliance with the BJP ahead of the Maharashtra elections, formed the government with it after the results were announced. But since then, it has been seen as a proxy opposition to the BJP — both at the centre and the state. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and various leaders of his party had taken every opportunity to criticise the Narendra Modi government – from its handling of demonetisation to its Pakistan policy and handling of floods and droughts in the country. The Sena and the BJP has fought the last BMC elections as allies. The Shiv Sena had won 75 of the 227 seats, with the BJP winning 31, the Congress 52 and the NCP 13.