There is set to be a high-profile tussle over the Dadar seat during the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. The Shiv Sena plans to snatch the prestigious position away from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena by fielding former mayor Vishakha Raut, said sources.
Electoral ward 191 covers Maharashtrian-dominated Dadar — including Shivaji Park — and also houses Shiv Sena headquarters ‘Shiv Sena Bhavan’. The area was the Sena’s citadel right from its inception in 1966, before the MNS won it during the 2012 civic polls. The first chief minister from the Sena, Manohar Joshi, was elected from the area, which is now reserved for women.
The MNS is all set to field Swapna Deshpande, wife of high-profile corporator Sandeep Deshpande. Swapna resigned from her government job to contest the polls. In what came as a surprise to many, BJP leaders said Medha Somaiya will be its candidate for the seat. Medha, wife of BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has been active in politics.
Political observers said the move was aimed at irritating the Sena as Kirit is a vocal opponent of the party.
He had gone to the extent of targeting Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, saying he was running the BMC in a non-transparent manner. On Sunday, Kirit told reporters that the Sena was unaware of the ground reality. He stated that as the BJP has gained considerable strength in Mumbai, it has the right to ask its ally for additional seats.
Dadar has been the stronghold of the Sena for decades. However, in 2009, the MNS snatched it during the assembly elections with MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s friend Nitin Sardesai winning the seat.During the 2012 civic polls, the MNS won all the seats from this belt. However, during the keenly-contested 2014 assembly polls, the Sena regained the seat and Sardesai conceded defeat to Sena leader Sada Sarvankar.