Mira-Bhayander becomes new battleground for old allies BJP, Shiv Sena
As many as 509 candidates are in the fray for 95 seats of Mira-Bhayander corporation, polling for which will be held on August 20. As of now, the BJP and the Sena are jointly ruling the 95-member civic bodymumbai Updated: Aug 19, 2017 01:51 IST
Warring allies Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena will lock horns once again on August 20, this time in Mumbai’s satellite town of Mira-Bhayander, with the main contest in the local civic body elections between the two saffron parties.
As many as 509 candidates are in the fray for 95 seats. The results will be declared on August 21.
Previously, a stronghold of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the BJP’s electoral might has surged manifold in Mira-Bhayander — part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region — with the party having the highest number of corporators and its elected legislator, Narendra Mehta.
The Sena is trying to don a more secular image and has poached Gilbert Mendonca, former NCP legislator from Mira-Bhayandar. The Congress and the NCP are contesting independently, making it a multi-cornered election. Just like in the Mumbai civic polls in which the BJP and the Sena were involved in a high-voltage contest, these elections are witnessing high-pitched campaigns by the two parties. Till a few years ago, the twin cities used to witness Congress versus NCP contests.
Both Sena and the BJP have brandished a development agenda to woo voters. The Sena has highlighted its decisions in the Mumbai civic body such as a property tax waiver for houses of up to 500 square feet, promising to replicate these in Mira-Bhayander if voted to power.
The BJP has put forward multi-crore projects that the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government has sanctioned for Mira-Bhayander. In his rally on Thursday, the chief minister also said all key infrastructure-related decisions ultimately fall under his purview.
As of now, the BJP and the Sena are jointly ruling the 95-member corporation. The alliance has, however, been marked with constant tiffs, the most severe being over the BJP’s decision to enforce an eight-day meat ban in the town during the Jain festival of Paryushan.
Mira Bhayander, with a population of 8.14 lakh, is a mix of people from different communities .
Pratap Sarnaik, Sena legislator from Thane, said, “In keeping with the diversity here, the Sena has also tried to choose candidates from across communities. We are confident of getting between 45 and 54 seats. Just like the people grew frustrated with the Congress and NCP’s incumbency, it has also become disillusioned with the BJP over the past two years.” The Sena has given tickets to 38 non-Marathi candidates, including Christians, Muslims, North and South Indians, Gujaratis and Jains.
The BJP, however, has dismissed the Shiv Sena’s effort as superficial. “With a larger non-Marathi population, the BJP is by default more popular. We have built a widespread network in Mira-Bhayander with 8,000 primary members. With the state government’s help, we have brought ample infrastructure development to the region. Sena members had, in fact, opposed some of these projects,” said Hemant Mhatre, who heads BJP’s Mira Bhayandar unit. He added, Mendonca’s presence too is unlikely to give the Shiv Sena any edge because voters who chose him with an NCP banner will be hesitant to jump to the Sena banner.
The BJP, which triumphed in 8 of 10 municipal corporations earlier this year and won big in municipal councils across the state last year, is looking at the poll as yet another milestone in its victory march across the state.
First Published: Aug 19, 2017 01:51 IST