The last-minute withdrawal by the Congress from the election for the posts of chairman of BMC’s Standing Committee and Education Committee saw the Shiv Sena sail through with the party managing to get its nominees elected to both the posts by defeating the BJP candidates. In the cash-rich BMC, presiding over the Standing Committee is of importance as it approves and allocates funds required for various projects or works carried out by the civic body.
On Monday, the elections for the chairmanship of the two statutory committees were held at the General Body Hall in the BMC headquarters near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).
After withdrawing the nominations of its candidates minutes before the polls, the Congress abstained from voting. Shiv Sena candidate Yashwant Jadhav for Standing Committee and Sandhya Doshi for Education Committee won the election by defeating the BJP candidates.
In the 27-member Standing Committee, Jadhav defeated BJP candidate Makrand Narvekar by five votes. While Jadhav got 14 votes, Narvekar secured nine votes. In the Education Committee, Doshi won with 13 votes while BJP candidate Surekha Patil got seven votes.
Interestingly, during the election for the Education Committee, two BJP corporators voted for the Sena despite a whip by the party. BJP corporators Bindu Trivedi and Yogita Koli raised their hands in support of party candidates but they signed in front of Sena candidates. So, their votes were termed as invalid. However, BJP has decided to take action against both of them.
Sources in the Sena said that the Congress putting up its candidates for the election was part of a coordinated strategy of the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies to pin the BJP. “The Congress was keen to retain the post of the Leader of Opposition. Earlier, we had helped them in retaining the opposition leader post when the BJP had staked its claim on the post. It seems the Congress has returned the favour to us in the polls today,” said a senior Sena leader requesting anonymity.
Another Sena leader said that the Congress may be accommodated in some of the ward committees of the BMC. The polls for the posts of presidents of the ward committees are scheduled to be held next week. “In some of the ward committees, which are with the BJP now but the Congress has good numbers, the Sena can back the Congress to win the posts,” said the leader requesting anonymity.
Congress corporator and Opposition leader Ravi Raja said, “We abstained from voting because we wanted to keep the BJP out of power. Whenever there will be a problem in BMC’s functioning, we will raise the issue as Opposition. We are really the Opposition and the court has validated it.”
However, the BJP targeted the Sena and Congress over the change of stand. “In BMC, the Opposition is Shiv Sena sponsored, today it has been proved. Congress and Sena have ‘financial connivance’. Congress should resign from the post by taking moral responsibility,” said Prabhakar Shinde, BJP leader.
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