Sena (84), BJP (82) to squabble over mayor

The no-holds-barred battle between erstwhile partners Shiv Sena and the BJP for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections came to a tense finish on Thursday with both parties unable to achieve a clear majority. Sena, with 84 seats, emerged as the largest party for the fifth consecutive time, but with BJP at 82, the gap is too narrow for the latter to not stake a claim for mayor. The BJP’s city unit chief Ashish Shelar claimed his party had the support of four independents, and therefore, his party was the frontrunner for the post.

Earlier in the day, one of the most hard-fought municipal elections in history saw favourites losing, the emergence of giant killers, and several other surprises. BJP dominated the western suburbs, helping it to bridge the gap with Shiv Sena, while the Uddhav Thackeray-led party’s impressive performance in the Marathi heartland ensured that the core voter base that had drifted to his cousin Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) returned to the “parent party”.

There were surprises, too. Former leader of opposition in the BMC, Congress’ Pravin Chheda lost to BJP’s Parag Shah from Ward No. 132 in Ghatkopar. Mr. Shah was the richest candidate in the fray with declared assets worth Rs 640 crore. The party made significant gains in the Gujarati and North Indian belts in the city.

BJP, which claimed it will not boast about the wins, could not hold itself from doing just that. Its city unit chief Ashish Shelar tweeted late in the night comparing his party’s performance with the Sena. “We fought 195 seats and won 82, while Sena fought 227 but won 84. Our strike rate is 42% while Sena’s 35%,” he wrote.

Not missing an opportunity to rub salt over Sena’s wounds, he said, “BJP’s growth (from 31 to 82) is manifold, while Sena’s (from 75 to 84) can be measured even by a scale,” he said.

Among the rebels who had joined BJP just prior to the polls, Prabhakar Shinde, Anita Panchal (both previousloy with Sena) won from Wards No. 106 in Mulund and 144 in Mankhurd respectively. However, some others such as Bhalchandra Ambore (formerly of MNS) and Tejaswini Ambole (earlier with Sena) lost from Wards No. 73 in Jogeshwari and 203 in Parel.

Sena, too, had its own moments, when some of its candidates emerged as giant killers. Mr. Shelar’s brother Vinod (BJP) lost to Sena’s Swapnil Tembvalkar in Ward No. 51, and Sena’s Riddhi Kursange from Ward 11 won against BJP MLC Pravin Darekar’s brother Prakash of the BJP. Yuva Sena activists, Samadhan Sarvankar from Ward No. 194 in Prabhadevi and Amey Ghole from Ward No. 178 in Wadala scored victories against their nearest rivals.

Interestingly, Sena won in the Muslim-dominated Beharampada in Bandra (Ward No. 96) where Mohammad Halim Shamim Khan defeated the nearest Congress candidate. A fight between two heavyweights, former Standing Committee chairperson Yashodhar Phanse from Sena and Jyotsna Dighe of Congress in Ward No. 60 of Andheri ended in benefiting BJP where Yograj Dhabelkar won.

BJP’s most noteworthy wins came in the Marathi heartland of Dadar and Girgaum. In Ward No. 190, BJP’s Sheetal Gambhir – daughter of a former Sena leader – won the election, while in Ward No. 218, BJP’s Anuradha Potdar scored a victory against Sena.

In one of the most anticipated battles in Dadar was in Ward No. 191, where Sena’s former mayor Vishakha Raut squared off against MNS’ Swapna Deshpande and won. Ms. Deshpande is wife of former MNS group leader Sandip. Another former mayor, Milind Vaidya of Sena won from Ward No. 182 in Mahim.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 12:30:02 AM |

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