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BJP may play role of Opposition in civic body

By Mehul R Thakkar
PUBLISHED ON NOV 29, 2019 01:08 AM IST

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking up the Opposition’s place in the Maharashtra Assembly, things are likely to change for the party in Asia’s richest municipal body — the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — too. The BJP, which was one of the ruling parties with the Shiv Sena for more than a decade, is now likely to become the main Opposition party in the civic body. The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which are in the Opposition in BMC now, may become Sena’s allies as they have already initiated talks with the latter over power-sharing, anticipating that the BJP will stake claim to the Opposition’s post.

The Sena is the largest party in the 227-member civic house with 91 corporators. The BJP has 81 members, followed by Congress (29), NCP (8), Samajwadi Party (6), All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (2), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (1), Akhil Bharatiya Sena (1) and four Independents. The election of four corporators is under litigation as the court had termed it invalid over the issue of caste certificates, but they have appealed to a higher court. The Sena can retain its power in the Mumbai civic body, with the support of the Congress and NCP.

The BJP and Sena have been in alliance in the civic body for years. Since the 2017 civic polls, the BJP claims it has been acting as a “watchdog” in the civic body, but now the party seems to be in the mood to sit in the Opposition. A BJP leader said the Congress and NCP have “no moral right” to sit in the Opposition in BMC. “We are in the stage of finalising the minute details, and we may be in the position of staking claim to the Opposition’s post in BMC in the next four to five days as the Congress and NCP are in an alliance with the Sena in the state,” he said. In the past week, the BJP has got aggressive at BMC meetings, with several party corporators fielding issues against the administration and opposing proposals. BJP MP and corporator Manoj Kotak, who has not been active in BMC after being elected as an MP earlier this year, also attended the standing committee meeting a week ago, and slammed the administration over several proposals.

On the other hand, the Congress and NCP are in talks with the Sena over power-sharing in the civic body. A Congress leader said, “We are anticipating the BJP will stake claim to the Opposition’s post, and hence we have started talks with the Sena to ally in BMC.” The Congress leader said the party may ask the Sena for chairmanship in several committees such as the standing committee, education committee and health committee, along with the deputy mayor’s post. “Two committees will also be asked for the NCP,” he said. Standing committee is the most important committee in BMC as majority of the administrative proposals are passed by it. Corporators from all political parties are members of the standing committee, and it is headed by a chairman. The Congress also anticipates that the Sena might not want to share the standing committee with it, as the committee has been with the latter for more than two decades. “In the state, the Congress and NCP are giving the chief minister’s post to the Sena, and hence, we might claim significant committees in BMC and other local bodies,” the Congress leader said.

In the recently held mayoral elections, the Congress and NCP did not field candidates against the Sena. The BJP, too, did not field any candidate, leading to the Sena retaining the posts of mayor and deputy mayor unopposed.

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