After being (almost) voted to power in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, hectic lobbying is on within the BJP to hold the reins of power -- the post of mayor. And the key to power rests with the power centre himself -- the BJP national president Nitin Gadkari.
The BJP-Sena combine bagged 68 seats in the 145-member civic body in the February 16 elections. Though the saffron alliance fell five seats short of an absolute majority, it is sure to gather enough numbers (seeking support from either the independents and/or two MNS corporators), to retain its hold on the civic body.
On the contrary, the Congress with 41 seats and its ally NCP 6 seats in their kitty -- left no stone unturned to wrest the civic body from the saffron alliance. Though the Congress-NCP is way off-mark from the requisite magic figure (73) to stake claim to ruling NMC, this has deterred them the least. The Congress-NCP alliance is desperately trying to rope in independents and the BSP with 12 seats, for taking control of the corporation.
It is said that the AICC general secretary and Lok Sabha member from Nagpur Vilas Muttemwar and his protégé Vikas Thakre, were in touch with BSP and independents, most of them won after the party denied them tickets.
Talking to Hindustan Times, a newly-elected BSP corporator preferring anonymity admitted that Muttemwar and Thakre had a talk with them and sought his support for a "secular" front to keep the BJP-Sena away from power. "It is sheer impossible for the Congress-NCP to rule Nagpur civic body in view of its poor strength. In such a situation, we will not forge any post-election alliance with anyone," he asserted.
BJP spokesman Girish Vyas claimed that it was hopeful to retain power in the corporation. Several independents have expressed their willingness to support the alliance and the party would announce its mayoral candidate soon. The election for the mayor's post is to be held before March 5.
It is said that the city BJP chief and four-time corporator Anil Sole, is the strongest contender for the top post while other senior corporators, Sandip Joshi, Dayashankar Tiwari and Sunil Agrawal are also in the race. However, the final decision will be taken by the parliamentary board, subject to clearance by Gadkari.
On other hand in the zilla parishad, BJP-Sena combine has together won 30 seats, a thin majority in 59-member house of Nagpur Zilla Parishad. The alliance has started exercise of exploiting options available for the post of ZP president. This time, the post of ZP chief is reserved to other backward class (OBC).
Being the single largest party, BJP will stake claim over the post of ZP chief, Presently, there are several probables whose names are being considered for the coveted post include: Manju Mankar, wife of former ZP president Ramesh Mankar, Shubhangi Gaidhane, whose husband is considered a close confidant of BJP legislator Chandrasekhar Bawankule and senior member of the ZP, Sandhya Gotmare.
Here also Gadkari's word would be considered sacrosanct and aspirants have already started lobbying for the post at his residence at Mahal in Nagpur.