BMC Election 2017: Impasse haunts civic body, as standoff between political parties continues

It's been four days since the results of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election were announced, but the political impasse has continued, with neither Shiv Sena nor BJP taking any steps to cobble up a majority.

All the major parties are refusing to stitch together an alliance with each other. There was speculation that Sena may seek Congress' support but the latter said there was no question of supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also ruled out the BJP seeking Congress' help in BMC.

However, RSS ideologue MG Vaidya suggested that BJP and Shiv Sena, who are still allies in the ruling state government, should share the Mayor's post for two-and-a-half years each. Sena, being the single largest party in the BMC, should get the post first, Vaidya said.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, said his party will join hands with Congress in all municipal corporations and Zilla Parishads where elections were held. "NCP will form an alliance across all the 10 municipal corporations and 25 Zilla Parishads in the state. Party chief Sunil Tatkare and MPCC chief Ashok Chavan have already held talks regarding the matter," Pawar told
reporters in Nanded.

Shiv Sena, claiming the support of 89 corporators, is confident of having its candidate become mayor of Mumbai. AFP

"If both parties form an alliance, they can come to power in some 17-18 Zilla Parishads of the total 25 that went to polls. A meeting is scheduled in Mumbai in the coming days, where it (the alliance) will be finalised," Pawar said.

Congress sources had said there was strong thinking in the party's state unit that it should consider the helping Shiv Sena out, as a tactical move to widen the rift between the Sena and the BJP. However, senior Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam ruled out such a move, though Nirupam did claim that Sena leaders had been "in touch with" Congress. He also said the party was planning to hold discussions with other like-minded parties to field a common candidate in the mayor's election, he said.

Former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said only the party high command could take a call on that. "If we take a decision to support (Sena), we (can) stop the BJP from installing its mayor, but for how long? If we don't support, BJP will have its mayor," Chavan said.

Sources had said that the Congress was unlikely to rush to a decision, preferring to wait till the ongoing state elections where the party was campaigning on a strong secular pitch, gets over. "Party workers feel Sena is a lesser evil than the BJP," said a state Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.

Sena won 84 seats in the February-21 election to the 227-member BMC, the country's richest civic body. BJP was close behind, winning 82 seats, while Congress was a distant third with 31 seats. Since 114 seats are required for reaching a simple majority mark, all eyes were on Congress. However, the party sources said it was wary of siding with "communal" forces, especially when it had made secularism its main plank in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Sena had claimed on Sunday that some Independent corporators were with it and have helped take its tally to 89. It also said the party enjoyed enough confidence to install its candidate as mayor of Mumbai.

"I can say that we have the maximum number of corporators and the mayor will be from Shiv Sena. The reports that we sought support from Congress are not true," Raut said. To the question how the party would be able to get its mayoral candidate elected as its tally is well short of the required figure of 114 in the 227-member BMC, Raut said, "Wait till 9 March, (the day of mayoral election), when we will tell you."

Given the acrimonious nature of campaigning for the BMC polls between Sena and BJP, there is even a chance that the former might pull out of the state government, thereby necessitating mid-term polls. However, Pawar has said even the threat of fresh polling wouldn't make him side with either of the two saffron parties. "Going by the behaviour of Uddhav, I don't think he will opt out of the state government. But if he does so, we are ready for the elections," Pawar said.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2017 12:46:44 IST

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