The Panvel civic body elections are set to witness a triangular fight between the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the Peasants and Workers’ Party (PWP) — which has formed an alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
This will be the first election of the the Panvel Municipal Corporation (PMC), which was formed in October last year.
Despite the BJP’s keenness on forming an alliance with the Sena, the Sena chose to maintain silence on it till Saturday, the last day of filing nominations.
Besides, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India (RPI), the BJP has been able to get the support of Jogendra Kawade-led People’s Republican Party (PRP).
PRP had been with the Congress since 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Sena has also got MP Raju Shetty-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana (SSS) as an alliance partner for the polls. Interestingly, the SSS has been with the BJP since the Lok Sabha polls and its leader Sadabhau Khot is a Minister of State in the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.
While Sena has fielded 65 candidates, the SSS has fielded 13 candidates for the polls. The PWP, which has a committed voter base in Panvel area, has fielded 48 candidates, Congress 18 and NCP 12. The BJP, meanwhile, has fielded all 78 candidates for the civic elections.
“The SSS and Sena have been on the same page when it comes to the farm loan waiver. In Panvel, a large number of people have migrated from Western Maharashtra, where SSS has a strong presence. These people, mainly children of the farmers, are in favour of the farm loan waiver. We hope this will help us,” said Adesh Bandekar, Sena’s secretary and in-charge of Raigad district.
Sources in the Sena said, after the polls were announced, the BJP had given an offer of 20 of the total 78 seats to the Sena initially and then revised it with 22 seats. However, party leaders did not respond to it, a Sena leader added.
Another leader from the party said that following the directions from party president Uddhav Thackeray, a taskforce of 20 leaders, which includes senior party leaders, MLAs and corporators, has been formed.
“The party has huge following in areas such as Kamothe, Kalmboli and old Panvel wherein, people have migrated from Mumbai. Besides, the BPT workers, people from Konkan and western Maharashtra, who are Sena sympathisers, are also in good numbers,” added the leader.
A senior Sena leader said the party wants to focus on the 2019 polls. “Our aim is to take the party’s symbol into the entire constituency for the next Assembly polls. It may not have any immediate result but will help in the long run,” the leader added.
However, the BJP is banking on urban voters, which had voted for the party in the recently-held municipal corporations and zilla parishad polls. Besides, it is campaigning with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as its face and the issue of transparency in civic body as it poll plank. Regions like Panvel old city and areas under the CIDCO — Kharghar, Kamothe, Kalmboli, New Panvel, Taloja and 29 adjoining villages — are under the civic body.