With the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) joining the Congress in supporting the Shiv Sena’s bid to position a mayor in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the party’s chances have become brighter.
On Sunday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said his party may opt for the Sena over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to ensure the smooth functioning of the civic body.
“Only two seats separate the BJP from the Shiv Sena. However, the Shiv Sena has managed to increase its tally by garnering the support of independent corporators. The NCP is in favour of the civic body functioning smoothly. The party’s local leaders will take a call on the issue if the Shiv Sena asks for our support,” Pawar said in Nanded.
“There is no question of supporting the BJP in Mumbai,” he added.
Pawar’s statement in favour of the Shiv Sena assumes significance as it may take the latter closer to the majority mark. After expressing its wish to extend support to the Shiv Sena, the Congress has not been able decide on whether it will abstain from voting in the mayoral election or if it will field its own candidate.
The NCP has the option of either voting or abstaining. The Shiv Sena stands to benefit in either situation, as the number of corporators needed to reach the majority mark will drop to 94 members.
Though Pawar said a final call will be taken by the Mumbai unit of the NCP, his statement comes as clear indication of what the party’s stand is.
NCP city unit chief Sachin Ahir said he spoke to Pawar two days ago. “It will be unfair to say anything about us supporting the Shiv Sena when there has been no such formal communication from them. Let them approach us, after which a decision will be taken in accordance with directives from party leadership,” Ahir told HT.
Sena won 84 seats and has garnered the support of three independent corporators and from Geeta Gawli of the Akhil Bhartiya Sena (ABS), taking its tally to 88. If the Shiv Sena manages to get nine NCP corporators, it may help the party get closer to the majority mark.
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said the party will not support Shiv Sena, as it does not like the Sena’s brand of caste and religion-based politics.
However, he added that the party was considering fielding its own candidate for the post of mayor. The party may also abstain from the election to keep the BJP at bay.
The number of corporators participating in the vote will drop to 187 if the Congress and NCP both abstain from voting.
If the Congress decides to pit its candidate for the mayor’s post, this situation will also favour the Shiv Sena, as the rest of the parties such as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Samajwadi Party and All India Majlis-e-Ittehaul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will not support the BJP owing to ideological differences.
During the election campaign, MNS chief Raj Thackeray had even alleged that the BJP was conspiring to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra.