Will Mumbai’s next mayor be from the Shiv Sena or the BJP?
As the poll battle ended in a close finish, speculations are already rife over who the front-runners are.
The Shiv Sena is spoilt for choice, with as many as seven veterans in the race to be mayor.
The BJP, on the other hand, has just a few names, despite winning 82 seats, as several bigwigs lost the elections.
The Sena’s most prominent names include former mayor Milind Vaidya, senior leaders Mangesh Satamkar, Ashish Chemburkar and Yashwant Jadhav. All of them were corporators earlier and even handled key assignments in the BMC for the Sena.
While Yashodhar Phanse is now out of the race after his loss, Ramesh Korgaonkar and Ramkant Rahate, both former standing committee members, are also being looked at as options.
However, former MLA Vishakha Raut, who has also been a mayor, may not be considered as the outgoing Mayor is a woman.
“We are confident the Mayor will be ours. We also have a lot of options. The final call will be taken by Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray,” said a senior Sena leader.
If the BJP manages to get the mayor’s post, the party’s options include veteran and six-term corporator Dr Ram Barot, outgoing BJP group leader Manoj Kotak and outgoing improvements committee chairman Prakash Gangadhare. The party is likely to struggle to get a Marathi face as seniors such as Vinod Shelar, Mohan Mithbaonkar and Balchandra Shirsat have lost the election. But this may give the party a chance to spring a surprise and appoint a new entrant, a highly-qualified candidate with a clean image.
“While Manoj Kotak is a good leader, we will be looking at a Marathi face to be our mayor, who will be highly qualified and acceptable easily, even if it is someone new,” said a senior BJP leader.
The mayor is the city’s First Citizen and usually from the party that takes control over the civic body. With both parties having a difference of just two seats, the mayor will play an important role in controlling proceedings of the general body of corporators.