EVEN as the Congress on Sunday announced that it will contest elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on its own, the Shiv Sena has decided to contest gram panchayat elections in the state without striking any alliance, bringing to fore differences within the Maha Vikas Aghadi fold.
“We will contest in all 227 wards of the BMC. All our Mumbai leaders are of the view that the party should increase its strength in the city,” said Bhai Jagtap, who was in Jejur on Sunday, a day after he was appointed president of the Mumbai Congress.
On Saturday, Chief Minister and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting of district leaders and urged them to prepare for the gram panchayat elections. As many as 14,234 gram pachayats in the state are going to polls next month.
Former Shirur MP and Sena leader Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil said, “Actually, gram panchayat elections are not fought on party basis. Symbols of registered political parties are not used in these elections. Candidates form panels and fight the elections. Our leaders only extend support to particular panels.”
Patil said the Sena will have no alliance in Pune district with either the Congress or the NCP. “In Shirur constituency, the BJP is nowhere in sight. It is NCP versus Shiv Sena. Around 45 per cent gram panchayats are with NCP and 42 per cent with Shiv Sena. The rest are indepedents or BJP. There is hardly any presence of Congress.”
Adhalrao said fighting local elections is necessary for the growth of the party. “It helps us to identify our weaknesses and strengths and later work on them,” he said.
Meanwhile, sate Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat denied that the Congress was unhappy with the functioning of the MVA goverment led by Thackeray. “The letter sent by our party president Sonia Gandhi was part of a dialogue and it should not be interpreted as a sign of Congress being unhappy…,” said Thorat.
“When the MVA was formed, the common man was the centre of attention. The main objective was to focus on the poor… our constant efforts are to uplift the common man,” he added.
BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, however, said,”The Congress has no intention to serve the poor. It wants to desperately cling on to power in a bid to survive in the state.”