What next for the BJP-Sena tango in BMC?

Time to split? Devendra Fadnavis resigned as chief minister to make way for Uddhav Thackeray.

Time to split? Devendra Fadnavis resigned as chief minister to make way for Uddhav Thackeray.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

With the saffron alliance heading for a formal break-up, urban local bodies in State may witness a change in power play

With Devendra Fadnavis’s resignation as chief minister, power dynamics are likely to shift in the State’s urban local bodies, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

In the BMC’s 227-member general assembly, 94 are Shiv Sena corporators, 83 from the BJP, and 37 from the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), apart from smaller parties and nominated corporators.

During the 2017 civic elections, even though the Sena and BJP were in an alliance in the State, the two decided to separate. After the election results, the Sena only had two corporators more than those of the BJP, leading to concerns of horse-trading. However, the BJP decided to step aside to play the role of a ‘watchdog’. The BJP did not demand any positions, allowing the Sena to keep every position from Mayor to deputy Mayor to chairpersons of all civic committees. It also slammed the Sena on several occasions.

However, now with the Sena-BJP alliance formally appearing to be over, whether equations will change in the BMC are to be seen. Either the BJP will continue to play the ‘watchdog’ without actively supporting the Sena or it may formally take up the role of opposition, including having its own leader of opposition (LoP). Right now, Congress’s Ravi Raja is the LoP. When asked about the situation, BJP leader Ashish Shelar said, “I will have to talk to the Mumbai president and decide.” Mr. Raja said the party high command would have to call for a meeting and then make a decision on this. “We do not know yet.”

On several occasions in the BMC, the Congress and NCP have taken a stand similar to that of the Sena while in many instances, the BJP and Sena have shared a similar view.

In one such example, during a tree authority meeting that allowed cutting of trees in Aarey colony for a Metro car shed, the BJP supported the proposal while the Sena opposed it vehemently. The Congress and NCP had staged a walkout, leading to allegations of secretly endorsing the BJP. Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had publicly opposed the decision. Eventually, the Sena went to court against the order.

During the passage of the Development Plan, there were representatives of the Sena and BJP on the BMC monitoring committee. At the recent Mayoral elections, the BJP did not field a candidate stating that it did not have the numbers, eventually leading to Sena’s Kishori Pednekar becoming Mayor unopposed.

In the Assembly elections, Sena corporators from the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation had vandalised the office of Mayor Dimple Mehta, who belongs to the BJP, alleging that the party was delaying a proposal to build an art gallery to be named after Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 12:40:49 AM |

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