The tussle over gaining more power in the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) is likely to widen the rift between the ruling allies in the state — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Commenting on the Congress’ increasing closeness with the Shiv Sena, NCP state president Madhukar Pichad, on Friday, said: “It is time the Congress decided whether they want us as allies or no. The way the party has behaved in Thane is not in keeping with the principles of coalition.” Pichad gave a clear threat stating that with the impending Vidhan Parishad elections, the Congress should think of whose help they would require in the future.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said that this issue would be discussed in the co-ordination committee meeting of the two parties and it will have no impact on the overall relationship between the allies in the state.
“A lot of things have happened in the zilla parishad polls and even the earlier civic polls. We will discuss the issue,” said Chavan.
The NCP is miffed because the Thane unit of Congress is seeking to break away from its pre-poll alliance with the party.
On Thursday, the Congress got its corporator elected as the opposition party leader instead of a member of its alliance partner, which has more strength. This, political observers, say could signal an alliance between the Congress and the Sena in Thane.
Sources in the Congress said that the move in Thane was a result of the NCP joining hands with the MNS behind its back and the way the party allied with the BJP in the zilla parishads.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre said that in Thane the NCP did not take the initiative to get their corporator elected as the opposition leader. “So, the general body approved our corporator’s name.”
Thakre denied that his party did anything wrong but warned the alliance partner in the state government against taking the Congress for granted.
Meanwhile, a brawl broke out in the Thane civic body’s general body meeting as Shiv Sena and NCP corporators tore each others’ clothes and even assaulted each other over the appointment of the standing committee members. Some corporators even broke the mayor’s microphone.
The ruling Sena and NCP both had an equal strength of 65 corporators each. However, the Sena declared nine seats of their party for the standing committee leaving only seven for the NCP-Congress alliance. This enraged the NCP corporators.
In the chaos that ensued, the general body had to be adjourned for an hour. The Sena then reduced the number of seats by one, giving the additional seat to the NCP. The mayor said that the one additional seat was merely a mistake. Sanjay Bhoir, leader, Democratic front, Thane, said, “We will take the matter to the state government.”