The Congress may be planning a solo fight in the 2022 BMC elections, but in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, where civic polls are due, the situation appears to be altogether different.
Seen as a weak player in the satellite town, the Congress is in favour of a pre-poll pact with its allies Shiv Sena and NCP, who have been the dominant forces in the region over the past decade.
On Tuesday, during an internal party meeting, most Congress leaders from Navi Mumbai backed an alliance. Fisheries Minister and Navi Mumbai Congress’ sampark mantri, Aslam Shaikh, too, spoke in favour of the alliance. “The Maha Vikas Aghadi has done a lot of work in the past one year. Take it to the people,” Shaikh told party workers at the meeting. “As the government in power and the party, we will give you the required support,” he added.
The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections were originally scheduled for April, but were postponed due to the lockdown. While the Election Commission is yet to declare new poll dates, parties have begun preparing in full swing for the elections.
In the 2015 civic polls, the Congress had won just 10 of the 111 seats, while NCP had bagged 52 and Shiv Sena 38. However, the NCP corporators switched over to BJP ahead of the Assembly polls in 2019, along with former minister and the region’s heavyweight Ganesh Naik. The BJP now has 54 seats, while the Congress’ tally has since increased to 13. The Shiv Sena has 42 seats.
With the Navi Mumbai civic elections preceding the BMC polls, the Congress also wants to see whether an alliance leads to transfer of some of Sena’s loyal vote bank.
“The party isn’t really a contender for the top slot in Navi Mumbai. By forging an alliance with Shiv Sena and NCP, we can keep BJP, which has been bolstered by Naik’s presence, at bay. More importantly, we will also know if Sena voters vote for Congress and vice versa,” said a senior Congress leader. While most Congress corporators in Mumbai want the party to go it alone, a leader said that the decision on whether to join hands with Sena and NCP in Mumbai may well hinge on how the alliance fares in Navi Mumbai.
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