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Political flip-flop in Ahmednagar

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BJP allies with NCP to seize power in Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation

In a move reminiscent of the backstage intrigue between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) prior to 2014 Assembly polls, both parties join hands to snatch the Mayoral post in the Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation (AMC).

This saw the BJP’s Babasaheb Wakde being elected Mayor of the 68-seat body, winning 37 votes with the backing of NCP despite the Shiv Sena being the single largest party in the AMC.

The Congress and the NCP had jointly contested the recently-concluded Dhule and Ahmednagar civic polls

The NCP’s volte face in Ahmednagar once again reflected the fragility of the Congress-NCP coalition while bringing into sharp focus the mistrust between the traditional alliance partners.

‘Stab in the back’

While the Congress leadership in Ahmednagar was incensed at the NCP’s ‘stab in the back’, NCP top brass denied any foreknowledge of a local alliance with the BJP.

“We had given explicit instructions to our [NCP] corporators to not vote for BJP or Shiv Sena. We had allied with the Congress to contest the civic polls and defeat the BJP... I have issued show cause notices against those who voted for BJP’s candidate and party is considering disciplinary action,” said NCP State unit president Jayant Patil.

Mr. Patil further dismissed speculation that the NCP was the BJP’s ‘B-team’ in Ahmednagar

In the results to the AMC poll, the BJP could only secure 14 seats, while the NCP and the Congress bagged 18 seats and five seats respectively.

High drama

High drama preceded the Mayoral election as senior BJP leader and State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, credited with engineering some of the party’s biggest civic poll wins, came to Ahmednagar on Friday morning to supervise the alliance with the NCP.

“As no party had a clear majority in Ahmednagar, there were three contenders [Sena, BJP and NCP] for the mayoral post. Our objective, as that of other party corporators, is the development of Ahmednagar city. So, we immediately accepted the invitation from local NCP leaders to form an alliance,” said Mr. Mahajan, rejecting any notion of “political opportunism”.

He further said that despite the BJP’s “sincere wish” to ally with the Sena, the latter did not respond to their overtures.

Mr. Mahajan, known as the ‘troubleshooter’ in party circles, said there were numerous instances of political parties with rival ideologies forming alliances locally, at the Zilla Parishad and Panchayat levels.

The double murder of two Shiv Sena leaders in Ahmednagar in April this year had cast a long shadow on the AMC polls which was dictated largely by clan antagonisms.

“The public had voted for the Sena in the AMC poll. But in a bid to protect the murderers of our party workers, the NCP and the BJP came together,” said Sena leader and former MLA Anil Rathod.

Even before the poll, the Sena was at daggers drawn with NCP and the BJP as sitting MLAs from the two parties were implicated in the murders of the Sena leaders Sanjay Kotkar and Vasant Thube.

In the larger context of the upcoming Parliamentary and Assembly polls, the move recalls the clandestine understanding between the BJP and the NCP before the 2014 general elections that had resulted in the crumbling of the hitherto unbroken polar alliances in Maharashtra, the Sena-BJP (since 1989) and the Congress-NCP (since 1999).

Following the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly poll result, the NCP had eagerly offered unsolicited outside support to the then minority BJP government while its traditional saffron ally, the Sena, had dithered.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:11:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/political-flip-flop-in-ahmednagar/article25854908.ece

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