Congress’ plan to wrestle the mayor’s post from the Shiv Sena has hit a roadblock with Samajwadi Party’s decision to withdraw support, if Congress joins hands with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
“The Congress has to choose between us and MNS,” said Abu Azmi, legislator and State President, Samajwadi Party (SP). “If they ally with the MNS, we will not support their candidate,” he said. He added the party would be forced to be neutral, as the question of supporting the saffron alliance does not arise. Azmi’s anger stems from the fact that he was manhandled by four MNS legislators in the Assembly for taking his oath in Hindi.
SP’s decision has created a dilemma for the Congress, as it needs the support of both SP and MNS, which adds to 13 corporators, if it wants to upset the saffron applecart. Presently, Congress-NCP and allies have just 96 corporators, which falls well short of the figure of 113 to make it to the mayor’s post.
In contrast, the Sena-BJP alliance has been able to gather 112 corporators. Both, Gawli-led Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS) and Independent Adolf D’Souza are refusing to reveal their plans about whom they will support.
The Congress had deliberately chosen first-timer Priscila Kadam, acolyte of Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, a former Sena leader to ensure veteran Sena candidate Shraddha Jadhav’s defeat.
However, the Congress says that it is still confident of an upset. “There are many unhappy Sena corporators who will vote for our candidate and there may arise a situation where we may not need SP’s support,” said Nitesh Rane, son of Narayan Rane who is devising the whole strategy. Nitesh on Saturday had met Geeta and Vandana Gawli, two ABS corporators to garner support.
On Sunday, both Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) held meetings of their corporators and urged them to vote for their respective candidates.
MNS said that it will decide its own strategy. “We do not care what the SP does and we will be taking our decisions independently,” said Nitin Sardesai, MNS legislator.