High political drama unfolded in Thane on Sunday, after the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance enforced a bandh over a corporator who has reportedly gone missing days before the mayoral election on March 6.
The disappearance of the corporator, the BJP’s Suhasini Lokhande, on February 24, has led to an open war between the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance and the NCP in Thane. The alliance has bagged only 62 seats in the 130-strong Thane Municipal Corpo-ration (TMC) this time, and every vote, including Lokhande’s, is vital in its quest to capture the mayor’s post. For the Sena, losing the TMC will mean losing power in a city where it has been in power for four consecutive terms.
The party has now asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to postpone the mayoral election.
Meanwhile, Lokhande, who was contacted by a local TV channel, claimed she was safe. She said: “I am under no pressure and am visiting a religious destination. I am with the Sena-BJP alliance and will be present on March 6.”
Following Sunday’s bandh call, several buses and rickshaws were damaged after protestors pelted stones on vehicles and tyres were burnt on Thane’s roads. Almost all modes of public transport were shut down.
Police sources reported sporadic incidents of violence near Thane station, Anand Nagar, Check Naka, Eternity mall and B-Cabin. According to the police, nine Thane Municipal Trans-port buses providing local transport, six state transport buses and five autorickshaws were damaged. By Sunday afternoon, the police had arrested 18 Shiv Sainiks for participating in acts of violence.