After the chief minister announced that he was planning to set up an Upa Lokayukta to oversee the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the Shiv Sena on Monday lashed out saying the Sena is completely capable of truly monitoring Mumbai, and the government should set up an Upa Lokayukta for Varsha, the chief minister’s official residence, instead.
In an editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana, the Shiv Sena said the chief minister should set an ideal by bringing in transparency in the state cabinet meetings first, and leave Mumbai’s fate to the Shiv Sena.
“It is a common all-party truth that Mumbai’s most capable watchdog is Shiv Sena. How are you to set up a watchdog here? The chief minister announced that he would set up a special Upa Lokayukta for the Mumbai civic body to prevent corruption and so on. In reality, it is necessary to appoint an independent Upa Lokayukta for the chief minister’s Varsha bungalow,” the Sena said in the editorial. The party added that while it does not fear any Upa Lokayukta in Mumbai, it is a signal that the BJP-led state government does not trust the municipal commissioner. Moreover, it demanded the setting up of similar watchdogs for other civic bodies too, especially the BJP-controlled Nagpur, where the Sena says there has been maximum corruption.
The party said that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis decided to drop out of the mayoral, deputy mayoral race in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and also not seek the chairmanship of any of the civic body’s committees, as somewhere even the BJP knew that only the Sena’s mayor was going to be elected.
“They (the BJP) must be in a situation like despite juicing the fruit they could not even get their hands on the seeds. The Shiv Sena wanted to fight the mayoral election and win. That victory would have been like one of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s glorious victories,” the Sena said in Saamana.
The party also criticised the BJP’s transparency agenda and called it a facade, saying that it got votes in Mumbai not because of transparency, but because of the support of the Jain population here.
“The Jains campaigned for the BJP like the party’s agents. They went around saying if you want to shut down the abattoirs and non-vegetarianism in the city then vote for the BJP like a fatwa. If you (the BJP) are calling this transparency then it is a complete pretence,” the Sena said.
The Sena and the BJP ended up neck-and-neck in the recent elections to the BMC with the former getting 84 of the 227 seats and the latter not far behind with 82. With this being the first civic elections in two decades that the two former allies contested independently, and ended up in a close contest, there was much uncertainty as to which party gets the highest numbers to seat the city’s mayor. While both parties tried to bolster their strength with back-channel talks with independents and other smaller parties, the BJP dropped out of the race at the eleventh hour clearing the way for Sena’s victory, and promising to be a transparency watchdog in the civic body instead.