BMC poll: BJP, Shiv Sena to go solo

With elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) 10 months away, Maharashtra's ruling coalition partners Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are preparing to go solo. Both are ruling India's richest civic body, which recently passed a budget of Rs 37,052 crore for 2016-17.  

BJP President Amit Shah held a marathon meeting on Saturday with a 13-member delegation comprising state party unit chief Raosaheb Danve and city president Ashish Shelar among others to weigh the party's prospects going solo. The party will soon launch a programme to mobilise support and consolidate its position in the run up to the poll.

When contacted by the Business Standard, Shelar declined to comment. However, a party legislator, who was present at the meeting, said the party discussed a strategy of fighting independently.

''BJP has overtaken Shiv Sena in the Assembly election held in 2014 both in Mumbai and and rest of Maharashtra after the alliance broke. The party has since taken a number of decisions for expediting growth in Greater Mumbai and it does not want to be cornered by opposition on issues relating to corruption especially with Shiv Sena. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already ordered several inquiries and wants to cash in on party's development agenda,'' the legislator said on the condition of anonymity.

A Shiv Sena legislator who is a close confidant of party President Uddhav Thackeray meanwhile said it is already geared up to face the polls alone. ''Shiv Sena has not forgotten the way BJP ditched the alliance at the last minute for the state Assembly poll. Thereafter, Sena independently contested the election to the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation and outsmart BJP. Sena is in the midst of shortlisting candidates in all 227 wards,'' he said.

Both parties are currently trading charges over repeated incidents of fire at the Deonar dumping ground, corruption in award of road repairs contracts and malpractices in the water supply.

BJP Member of Parliament Kirit Somaiya and the state environment minister and Sena veteran Ramdas Kadam had a war of words over the issue. While Somaiya demanded a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into contracts of the Deonar dumping yard, Kadam alleged that the culprits are not being caught as they are close to BJP.

Furthermore, Somaiya last week blamed the Sena for "sheltering the tanker mafia" in Mumbai. He said "agents affiliated to the Shiv Sena were running the syndicate" in connivance with the "tanker mafia and officials from the BMC." However, Sena has rubbished the allegation.

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