Shiv Sena makes its move in the Mumbai civic body, over to the BJP now
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Shiv Sena makes its move in the Mumbai civic body, over to the BJP now

If BJP wants to make a dent on Sena’s lead, its best bet lies in the Congress or NCP

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2017 23:30 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
bmc,Shiv Sena,BJP
There is a possibility of a legal battle as the MNS has challenged the decision of its six corporators to join the Sena. (HT)

For the past two years, the two allies-turned-foes-turned-allies Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been trying to score over each other when it came to controlling the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), considered to be the richest in India.

Earlier this year, the BJP came within striking distance of power as it bagged just two fewer seats than the Sena in the civic polls. However, with the stability of the state government in mind, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis allowed the Sena to rule the BMC by extending unconditional support. Still, the bickering between the two parties was on with the BJP announcing that it would play role of a watchdog for the people. Now, with Sena strengthening its position by poaching six MNS corporators on Friday and widening its gap from BJP to 10 seats, the power tussle between the two parties has taken another turn. Now all eyes are on the BJP’s response to Sena’s move.

There is possibility of a legal battle as the MNS has challenged the decision of its six corporators to join the Sena.

The defected corporators led by Dilip Lande have written to the divisional commissioner (Konkan) informing him their decision to join the Sena. They, however, have to complete the procedure before the ruling is given by the divisional commissioner. The corporators have also been accused of graft by BJP MP Kirit Somaiya. The BJP has also approached state election commission for the action against the corporators. The decision on these three fronts depends on the stand taken by the state government, especially chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

“Section 50 (s) of the BMC Act allows the formation of a separate group/support to join any party with the defecting members not less than two-third of total strength. The MNS challenging it in the court, may not hold any standing, but it all depends on the interpretation of the provisions,” an official from the state election commission said.

“Until the divisional commissioner grants the request, the group of six corporators could be treated as the members of the MNS and their votes will not be considered in any other party. The MNS, too, has threatened to move the court calling the defection illegal. In this backdrop of the involvement of various government agencies, the government may ensure delay in the decision. It all depends on the viewpoint of the CM and the state BJP unit,”said a senior BJP leader.

According to the leaders from the BJP, the party is more interested in wresting control over the standing, improvement and other two committees by improving their numbers. As there is no provision of dislodging the mayor before the conclusion of a term of two-and-a-half years, the party has been attempting to turn the tables on the Sena during the elections for committees in next March. With the widening gap in numbers of corporators of the Shiv Sena and the BJP, the latter is unlikely to succeed immediately in its aspirations.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar said it is high time that the government thinks of amending the law. “The defection will be legal once the corporators are allowed to form their own group. But I think the time has come to increase the percentage of defectors from two-thirds to at least 75% members,” he said.

“The only option left with the BJP is to poach the corporators from the Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party. But again defection of two-third corporators from any of these parties seems difficult. It is more so in case of NCP, as 6 of its 9 corporators are Muslims, who will never join either of the saffron parties. The Congress is battling with infighting and groupism, but despite it, a vertical split is unlikely,” a BJP leader said.

Congress city chief Sanjay Nirupam said that their house was in order and no such split was possible. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “Our corporators would not go anywhere.”

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 23:30 IST