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Shiv Sena undoes BJP’s poll position in Mumbai civic body

Day after losing to BJP in Bhandup bypoll, Sena poaches 6 MNS corporators; party likely to widen lead by 10 seats

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2017 01:05 IST
While the Sena is still 20 seats away from a clear majority in the house, it has now widened the gap between itself and the BJP.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) threatened to push out the Shiv Sena as the ruling party in the Mumbai civic body, the latter pulled the rug from under its former ally.

A day after the Sena lost to the BJP in the bypolls in Bhandup (West) ward no. 116 to the BJP, it swung into action to poach six disgruntled Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporators. With the MNS councillors joining Sena, the saffron party’s tally in the 227-member house stands at 90. With the help of four independents, the Sena’s strength stands at 94. While the Sena is still 20 seats away from a clear majority in the house, it has now widened the gap between itself and the BJP, which is in second position.

This gives Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray freedom to push his party’s agenda without being dependent on the BJP and specifically chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. It will also leverage the party position on clearing crucial policies and decisions like Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray’s pet rooftop restaurant policy besides parking, hawkers policy and interim open spaces policy. In the House so far, the MNS group had been capricious IN its stance on policies, often just choosing to stay away during important discussions. The BJP has also aligned with opposition parties to contest Sena’s stance.

There has also been constant competition between the Sena and BJP for winning greater credit over these policies (24x7 Mumbai, rooftop policy) or opposing one another over them.

“By enlisting another six corporators in our party, we have foremost succeeded in establishing a comfortable lead without being worried about BJP pulling a fast one on us or getting these councillors in their camp. In today’s scenario, we think a greater alignment is possible with the Congress in the BMC than with the BJP given the degree of bitterness between us, “ said a senior Sena leader.

The Sena managed to retain its numero uno position in the BMC, its bastion for more than two decades, in the 2017 polls by the slimmest of margins by winning just two more seats than the BJP.

While the Sena wrested the mayor’s position even as BJP did not contest the election, the party has been insecure about its position.

The Bhandup bypoll results technically reduced the margin between Sena and BJP to just one corporator. However, as BJP’s one sitting corporator passed away in September, that seat is vacant, bringing its actual tally back to 82 from 83.

With this move, the Sena has secured itself from future blows by either BJP or the MNS to a large extent.

BJP was left fuming with party MP Kirit Somaiya complaining to the state election commission about Sena purchasing corporators for Rs2 to Rs4 crore each. The city BJP chief tweeted that a day after Bhandup poll results, an insecure Sena panicked and started running around desperately to make ends meet. He added that this move will also prove to be hollow.

However, for the record, in the ongoing tussle between Sena and BJP, the former have just scored a goal.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 01:05 IST