WORRIED by the lacklustre performance of senior leaders in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over the past few years, the Shiv Sena is set to bring back two stalwarts to control affairs in the municipality and counter its newly aggressive coalition partner BJP, ahead of the civic polls to be held early next year.
Sources in the Shiv Sena said that former mayor Sunil Prabhu is likely to return as Leader of the House, while former Standing Committee chairperson Rahul Shewale is expected to become vocal on civic affairs once again. While Prabhu was elected as Goregaon legislator in October 2014, he retains his seat as a corporator. Shewale was elected to Lok Sabha in April 2014, but also retains his seat as a corporator.
“The party leadership is unhappy with the performance of the current leadership in the civic body. They have not only failed in taking forward the Sena’s agenda, but also in controlling the damage caused to the party in the past two years. So, ahead of the civic polls, the party leadership has asked the senior corporators to take charge once again,” said a senior Shiv Sena leader.
The Shiv Sena, which has been ruling the civic body for over two decades now, has 75 corporators in the current house. It also has the support of 13 corporators from alliance partners. The BJP has a total of 32 corporators in the BMC. As per norms, the Leader of the House can be appointed at any time as per the directions of the party leadership, said officials.
Prabhu was the mayor until March 2014. Shewale was the Standing Committee chairman for four years before being elected to Parliament. Prabhu is known for his aggression and has a proven track record in the civic body, said Sena leaders.
Incidentally, Prabhu has made it a point to be present in the corporation hall on important occasions, including at the general body meeting when the Sena objected to the central government’s ‘Smart City Mission’. He pushed through 10 amendments to the original proposal, with Mumbai ultimately not figuring in the list of cities selected by the Union government. Also, though the BJP got the open spaces policy stayed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after it was passed by the civic body, Prabhu was present in the general body meeting on the day it was passed.
Recently, Shewale also hit out at the BJP, saying that Sena could not be held solely responsible for the dumping ground crisis in the city.
“Rahul and I will look into civic affairs to do the work given to us by the party leadership. We will deliver on the promises made to Mumbaikars. It is our moral responsibility as corporators,” Prabhu told The Indian Express.
Shewale was unavailable for comment.
Over the past two years, the Shiv Sena has faced multiple setbacks over its pet projects and policies. Its proposed policy permitting restaurants on rooftops and allowing pubs to stay open all night were stalled in the civic body. It also faced embarrassment after the removal of an open air gym on Marine Drive, which was a pet project of Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray.