After days of speculation, ‘abductions’ and counter-allegations over the Thane mayoral elections, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray ended the high-voltage drama on Tuesday noon, just three hours before voting time, by announcing his support to the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.
This paved the way for the Shiv Sena’s Harishchandra Patil to become the mayor of Thane, and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Milind Patankar to become deputy mayor, by a comfortable majority, as seven corporators of the MNS joined hands with the saffron combine.
“You have to accept the people’s verdict. The people’s mandate is with the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. So I will support them,” said Raj, while bailing out the saffron combine.
According to Sena sources, their party was on edge till Monday evening as its tally had reached only 63, including independents. This was still three short of the majority of 66. What’s worse, two BSP corporators were constantly seen to be switching sides, and the BJP missing corporator, Suhasini Lokhande, was yet to reappear.
It was at this juncture that three Sena legislators, all Thane heavyweights including district president Eknath Shinde, reached Raj’s house to seek his support. “The three Sena MLAs came to my house on Monday and said it was Balasaheb’s wish to see the city progress. I told them that I had some plans for Thane and if they worked on them then I would support them,” said Raj.
Among his plans, Thackeray listed a hospital for senior citizens, and dumping contractors in favour of professionals to carry out infrastructure work. On Tuesday afternoon, at the time of voting, the Sena managed to get 66 votes on its own. Three Congress corporators abstained, and with the support of the MNS, the saffron combine was comfortably home with 74 votes.