Mumbai: New mayor begins term with dig at BJP

The mayor cited this as a financial constraint for projects taken up by the municipality.

Written by Arita Sarkar | Mumbai | Published: March 9, 2017 12:22 am
(Above) Newly appointed mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar and Deputy Mayor Hemangi Worlikar. Sena supporters gather in large numbers at the BMC headquarters, decorated with saffron flags, for the election on Wednesday. Ganesh Shirsekar

Shiv Sena corporator Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, who was elected mayor of Mumbai on Wednesday, took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his very first speech, raising concerns over the dues the state owes to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The mayor cited this as a financial constraint for projects taken up by the municipality. Earlier, even as Mahadeshwar was elected mayor with the BJP’s corporators voting for the Sena candidate, the two parties indulged in sloganeering against each other.

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The Shiv Sena, keen to present a show of strength, brought in party workers and supporters from across the city and suburbs, leading to huge traffic pile-ups in South Mumbai. The roads around the municipal headquarters opposite CST were festooned with saffron flags of the Sena, while celebrations outside the headquarters began long before voting actually began, with beating of drums and dance performances. Party activists congregated in front of the headquarters, where the street was elaborately decorated with statues of elephants and Sena flags.

The entire top brass of the Shiv Sena was in attendance, including Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi, son and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, senior Sena ministers Subhash Desai, Eknath Shinde, Diwakar Raote and Ramdas Kadam, and other leaders such as Anil Desai and South Mumbai Member of Parliament Arvind Sawant.

After the counting of votes and the videographing of the process, Mahadeshwar said his priority as the financial capital’s first citizen would be arranging coordination committee meetings between the state and the civic body. “My priority will be conducting coordination committee meeting between the state government and the BMC, which haven’t taken place since 1999, with the aim of better coordination on civic issues,” he said. Mahadeshwar, a principal of a government-aided school, also emphasised the need for more skill development centres to provide employment opportunities for the youth in the city.

Mahadeshwar defeated the Congress’s mayoral candidate Vithal Lokare after he secured votes of 83 BJP and 88 Sena corporators. Only 31 Congress corporators voted for Lokare while nine corporators from NCP, six from Samajwadi Party and one from MIM chose to vote for neither of the candidates.

After a show of hands, each corporator had to declare his or her vote to a video camera.

Seven corporators from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) did not attend the first meeting of the newly elected general body on Wednesday, as a mark of protest, along with one of the two MIM corporators.

Barring the MNS, Mahadeshwar announced names of all the other groups’ leaders.

“Before the elections, Shiv Sena and BJP were cursing each other and calling each other thieves. After the elections, however, they are sitting together and they certainly haven’t done so in public interest. We didn’t want to show support to either of the parties and thus we didn’t attend the meeting,” said Dilip Lande of the MNS, who claimed that the party had chosen him as the MNS group leader in the corporation.

Hemangi Worlikar of the Sena was elected deputy mayor.

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