The race to control the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC), which has a budget of over Rs1,500 crore, has heated up with senior NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal throwing his hat in the ring.
MNS is trying to get its first civic body and implement its plan of developing a model city. On the other hand, Nashik guardian minister Bhujbal made the election a prestige issue.
Bhujbal held a meeting with Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale on Wednesday to discuss the political scenario in Nashik and preempt the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's plans of taking control of the NMC.
In a fractured verdict given by the residents of Nashik, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, the Congress-NCP partnership and the MNS have almost equal number of seats.
The MNS has the largest share of 40 corporators, followed by the NCP with 20, Shiv Sena with 19 Congress with 15 and the BJP with 14.
Parties need to have the backing of 62 members in the 122-seat NMC to stake claim to power.
The MNS had claimed that it would like to stake claim over the NMC with the help of the BJP and other independents.
Bhujbal, on the other hand, rebuffed Thackeray's statement that the first MNS mayor will be from Nashik.
"It is too premature to make such remarks. Where does he have the numbers? All parties have an equal opportunity," Bhujbal said.
He further claimed that it would be the Sena that will call the final shots since the MNS will have to align with the BJP or the Sena to reach the magic figure of 62.
"Whether the Sena leadership will allow the BJP to align with the MNS in Nashik is doubtful considering their alliance in Mumbai," Bhujbal said.
There is speculation that Bhujbal, who has mended his relations with the Sena, could pitch for an alliance between the NCP, Sena, BJP, RPI and independents to come to power.