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Way clear for saffron rule

mumbai Updated: Nov 09, 2010 01:01 IST
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Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has accepted defeat and paved the way for the rival saffron alliance to assume power in the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC).

Raj, whose party won 27 out of the 107 seats in the corporation, was expected to be kingmaker after the fractured mandate. On Monday, however, he said he would rather play the role of an active Opposition. "I am not fit for the alliance politics and since our party does not have an absolute majority we have decided to sit in the Opposition," Raj said during a press conference at Dombivli. He added that his party's corporators will not take part in the electoral process to decide the new mayor.

This move makes way for the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with a combined strength of 47 seats (including independents), to retain power in this civic body. The MNS has decided to abstain from voting in the mayoral elections later this week and there are indications that the Nationalist Congress Party may also keep away. If this happens, the effective strength of the 107-member house will reduce to 66 and the saffron alliance will easily cross the 33-seat mark to gain power. The Congress, with 15 corporators, had already declared its intention to sit in Opposition after the results were out on November 1.

The Sena has debunked the role of the MNS saying the latter had backtracked after all parties had turned it down. "We were anyway going to win power and the MNS has decided to abstain to save face," Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik, one of the party's chief campaigners for the polls, said.

Political analysts say Raj has realised everything was against him. "Raj will now become aggressive against the ruling parties and will exploit the issue of the KDMC's deficient municipal services in the 2012 municipal elections to be held in major cities like Mumbai, Thane and Nashik," said political commentator Nilu Damle.

Political analyst Uday Nirgudkar called Raj a "far-sighted leader". "He knows the pitfalls of depending on independents and coalition partners and hence opted for an independent course of action," Nirgudkar said.