The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls concluded on a thrilling note with Shiv Sena only a few seats ahead of the BJP. While Sena’s hold over the country’s richest civic body has loosened, all parties are now looking at the next steps and speculations of alliances have begun. Two days after the hung verdict, all parties have laid open their cards. The BJP has ruled out any alliance with the Congress for the control of BMC. On the other hand, Congress has refused to ally with the Shiv Sena and an opportunity to have a deputy mayor from their party. The Shiv Sena has emphatically declared that the mayor will be from their own party.
In the bitterly fought BMC elections, Shiv Sena had won 84 seats (now 87), BJP secured 82, Congress was relegated to the third position with 31 seats, whereas the NCP and Raj Thackeray-led MNS finished with nine and seven seats respectively. Besides, AIMIM got two seats, Samajwadi Party 6, Akhil Bhartiya Sena 1 and Independents 5 (of which 3 have now joined the Sena).
BJP won’t join hands with Congress
“BJP won’t ally with Congress at any point and cost. Whoever (Shiv Sena) wants to go with them can go, we won’t say a single word,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. “Let those who want to align with the Congress do so. We won’t stop them,” Fadnavis said, in an apparent reference to reports that the Shiv Sena was toying with the idea of roping in the Congress to bag the Mumbai mayor’s post.
The chief minister hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for starting “transparent politics” and added they were getting positive response as all communities have voted for them. He also maintained that BJP will continue with its transparency policy and not abandon it for other parties. “BJP is a party whic fights ideology with ideology. Whether we bag power (in BMC) or not, we will never go with the Congress,” the CM said.
Did Shiv Sena-Congress hold talks?
Reports earlier said that Shiv Sena and Congress were in talks of an alliance, with Congress helping Sena prop a mayor from the latter’s party. However, both parties denied such discussion. “Party workers feel Sena is a lesser evil than the BJP,” said a Congress state office-bearer told PTI, who did not wish to be identified. However, senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat said he was against any kind of support to the Sena in BMC. “I take strong objection to any discussion even of having any tie up or indirect support to the Shiv Sena in the BMC,” he said. He said Congress has fought against both saffron parties all along for their divisive policies and people will not spare the Congress if the party even attempts to align with them.
Kamat also said that both the parties should fight against each other in the game and Congress will not intervene in that. “Let them sort out their problems by themselves and in the process expose themselves and their lust for power,” Kamat added.
Mayor to be from Shiv Sena, party asserts
With no party securing clear mandate in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, Shiv Sena today expressed confidence that it would still bag the Mayor’s post. Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut also denied that the party had approached Congress for support. “I can say that we have the maximum number of corporators and the Mayor will be only from Shiv Sena. The reports that we sought support from Congress are not true,” Raut said, speaking to media at party headquarters here this afternoon. Senior Sena leaders today discussed the future course of action at a meeting at the party headquarters in Dadar. Newly-elected corporators met the party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
With the fractured mandate leaving neither the Sena nor the BJP in a position to install its rule in the country’s richest civic body on its own, both the parties are exploring various options to cobble up numbers to reach the magic figure of 114 seats in the 227-member city hall. The Sena’s tally rose to 87 yesterday with three Independent corporators extending their support to the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
Senior Sena leader and cabinet minister in the Maharashtra Government Eknath Shinde said, “We are the number one party in the house and we have 89 corporators with us. We are going to have our Mayor.” Shinde paraded four independent corporators before the media who he said were backing the Sena. Senior Sena leaders Manohar Joshi, MP Gajanan Kirtikar, Subhash Desai were among those who attended the meeting.