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Civic Polls: BJP, Sena in war of words but pact likely

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said the party would end corruption in the BMC, adding that he had been fighting against it for more than a year.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
October 6, 2016 1:51:57 am
shiv sena, bjp, kdmc, kdmc elections, mumbai municipal elections, bjp shiv sena, shiv sena bjp, devendra fadnavis, india news, mumbai news, latest news Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. (Express Archive)

Two days after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced new ward boundaries and reservation of seats ahead of the 2017 civic polls, ruling allies BJP and Shiv Sena exchanged barbs on Wednesday. Sources in both parties, however, indicated that despite the bluster, a pre-poll alliance between the two remains likely.

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said the party would end corruption in the BMC, adding that he had been fighting against it for more than a year.

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“The chief minister has appointed four special investigation teams to probe corruption in the BMC, the state of which is horrible. The BJP wants to end this mafiaraj,” said Somaiya.

Somaiya has earlier attacked the Sena on various issues, including the drains de-silting scam, the dumping ground issue and the road repair scam.

He had also alleged that the BMC was in the grip of mafia run by a ‘Saheb’ from Bandra.

“We are well prepared for the civic polls and can contest all 227 seats with small allies,” he added.

Incidentally, Sena MP Sanjay Raut also announced on Wednesday that the party will contest 200 seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Responding to Somaiya’s allegations, the Shiv Sena said it knows how to tackle the BJP.

“The Sena doesn’t do the mafiaraj. Our party leadership will make an announcement about fighting the polls solo, and nobody else,” said Kishori Pednekar, senior Sena corporator.

While the BJP was quick to state that Somaiya’s view is not the party view, leaders said many activists want to go solo in the civic polls.
“We have been preparing for the civic polls for a long time. Our workers are ready to fight all seats. So, it would be difficult to make an alliance with the Sena now. It would lead to a lot of anger and resentment among our activists, which may explode,” said a BJP leader.

However, the leader was quick to add that the alliance would happen if the chief minister decides so. “Though we don’t want an alliance, the final decision rests with chief minister,” he added.

For the past two months, the BJP and the Sena have been silent against each other. Also, a few meetings have taken place between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, which has fuelled speculations that both parties could fight the civic polls together.

Sources said that the BJP is keen to form an alliance if the Sena is ready to give it 90-100 seats in the 277-member civic body.

The BJP’s demand for more seats is based on its performance in the 2014 Assembly polls, where it won 15 seats in Mumbai, above Sena’s 14.

Sena corporators said they too were prepared for all 227 wards. “Since we are not bothered by the delimitation, the BJP is trying to damage us. But, it will not succeed. We have the grassroot network and have told our workers to be prepared to fight the civic polls alone,” said a corporator.

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