The BJP on Saturday accused the Shiv Sena of supporting the water tanker mafia in Mumbai. In the latest installment of a series of bitter exchanges between the two purported allies, city BJP president Ashish Shelar advised the Shiv Sena not to admit people who face anti-corruption bureau (ACB) inquiries.
Shelar was referring to former NCP corporator Sharad Pawar, who recently joined the Shiv Sena, and whose brother Santosh allegedly has links with the water tanker mafia. Shelar said, “Former NCP corporator Sharad Pawar’s brother Santosh Pawar works with the tanker mafia and had beaten up our party worker for complaining about him. Recently, Sharad Pawar and his wife Savita Pawar, a corporator from Chandivali, joined the Shiv Sena. They (the Sena) should at least think about the people it admits.”
This is the second time in a fortnight that the BJP has accused its ally of supporting the water tanker mafia. On April, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had accused the mayor, standing committee chairman and Shiv Sena leaders of not tackling the tanker mafia and demanded an inquiry by municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta. Last week, it demanded that members of the tanker mafia be charged under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
There are water shortages in several parts of the city, and tanker owners are being accused of charging extortionate rates and of selling water from the BMC’s water filling stations. Water from these stations is meant to be given free or at nominal rates to those in need.
As the crucial civic polls in Mumbai draw closer, relations between the Shiv Sena and BJP have been turning increasingly bitter. Though both parties have run the BMC together for two decades, their alliance has been fraying of late. Following their victory in the assembly elections, both parties are confident that they can do better without the other in the civic polls, and plan to contest separately to get a larger share of power.