Prashantha Budvi, a Kannada-speaking Jain corporator, defeated Neelima Pavshe of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi (MES) by a narrow margin of two votes in a neck and neck race for the post of Mayor of Belgaum. Pudvi bagged 30 votes against Pavshe's 28 votes in a house of 58 members.
The election for the post of Mayor of Belgaum had become a prestige issue for various Kannada and Marathi groups in Belgaum, which has become a bone of contention between Karnataka and neighbouring Maharashtra.
Since the inception of Belgaum City Corporation in 1984, the post of Mayor has remained with Marathi-speaking groups, except for period of one year in 1991 when Siddanagouda, a Kannada-speaking corporator was elected as Mayor. Budvi's election as the new Mayor of Belgaum has come as a major setback to MES, which has launched a campaign for merger of the Belgaum and other parts of the district with neighbouring Maharashtra.
An eight-member group of Urdu-speaking corporators of Belgaum played a crucial role in the election of Budvi as the new Mayor of Belgaum.
The Urdu-speaking group's representative Yunus Momin was elected Deputy Mayor of Belgaum, defeating MES candidate Netaji Mangutkar by two votes.
The election of Budvi and Momin came about after 29 members of the 58-strong Belgaum City Corporation formed a forum called Sarva Bhashik Samavichar Vedike to defeat the MES candidate.
Though the Vedike was eying even a few Marathi-speaking corporators, MES managed to shift its flock of corporators to a resort in Amboli in Maharashtra to prevent poaching. Eventually, MES lost the race for the coveted post of Mayor to a Kannada-speaking candidate