There is no question of the Congress supporting a ‘communal’ Shiv Sena in the city, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said after a series of meetings with the party high command in new Delhi. The party will field its own mayor candidate in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation instead of supporting the Sena and has also decided to stake claim to the post of opposition leader in the civic body.
Nirupam said the party wants to send out a clear message — the party has ideological differences with the Shiv Sena.
The Congress has also shortlisted a couple of names of senior corporators to field as candidates in the mayoral election to be held on March 8.
“We will field our mayoral candidate in the election. The question is not about winnability of the candidate, but about clarifying a stand,” Nirupam told HT.
The party’s central leadership also directed its Mumbai unit to not directly or indirectly support to the saffron party. “It is true that at the first meeting of senior Congress leaders after the results were announced, a few leaders were optimistic about supporting the Shiv Sena to keep the BJP at bay. But there was the idea got no support from within the party. The Mumbai unit has now come to the decision of fielding its own candidate,“ said a senior party office-bearer, not wishing to be named.
A section of the party leadership is also of the opinion that by claiming the post of the opposition leader, it may bag membership of the standing committee.
“By supporting or abstaining from voting, the party cannot bargain with the Sena for any committee. But if the party bags the post of leader of opposition, it will automatically get the standing committee as the opposition leader is its ex officio member. With the BJP and Shiv Sena likely to go together, the Congress can easily claim the post of leader of opposition,” the leader said.
The party is likely to pit senior party corporators Ravi Raja, Vitthal Lokare or Ashraf Azmi for the mayor’s post.
Congress has also has also approached the Nationalist Congress Party, asking it to join hands in the BMC. The parties have already agreed upon teaming up in the district councils to form the bodies. Congress has been convincing the NCP to field its candidate for the post of deputy mayor.
Both the parties are also approaching the Samajwadi Party for support in mayoral election.
Meanwhile, state and city unit chief of the party Ashok Chavan and Nirupam met party leaders in Delhi and apprised them about the performance in the civic polls held in the state last week.