Determined Shiv Sena and BJP struggle to gain mayoral control; Cong plays hard to get, says it won't ally with either saffron party
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray outside the Sena Bhavan, where he met the new corporators on Saturday. Pic/Sameer Markande
On yet another day of speculation, it emerged that no substantial gains were made by either the Shiv Sena or BJP to establish a mayor from their party. The Shiv Sena, which is trying to get the Congress and NCP on its side, kept its cards close to its chest, while the BJP said it would never contemplate such an unholy alliance.
The Congress camp was divided over the move to support the Sena, but kept the pressure up on the BJP by making confusing statements. While state Congress president and ex-CM Ashok Chavan said the Sena should first pull out of the BJP government, Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said he would try to establish a mayoral candidate of their own in association with smaller parties in Mumbai. He did admit that the Sena has been in touch with Congress leaders, but according to him, the pact would not fit the Congress' secular credentials.
MNS leader Raj Thackeray met party candidate Sanjay Turde after he was allegedly assaulted by BJP leaders
Mumbai Congress ex-chief Gurudas Kamat took strong objection to the thought of supporting the Sena. "People will not spare us if we even attempt to align with the Sena," he said in a statement on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray chose to stay mum on Saturday. Thackeray said he would declare his decision at the right time. His party has already roped in four independents, widening the gap between the Sena and the BJP.
BJP leader and CM Devendra Fadnavis during the victory celebrations of the party. Pic/Bipin Kokate
On Saturday, Thackeray also met his party corporators at the Sena Bhavan. "There is nothing to tell you today. I have not really decided anything as yet. Our elected people are new and they needed to be told about technical things that they would face in the House," he said. When asked about a possible alliance, he just folded his hands, and said, "I will reveal everything at a proper time. There is no hurry."
CM Fadnavis made his resolve public at the party's victory celebrations on Saturday. "We will never join hands with the Congress because the people voted us to get rid of this corrupt party. But, we will not stop those who want to embrace the Congress," he said, without naming the Sena.
Sources in political circles said that NCP chief Sharad Pawar might take up the responsibility of convincing the Congress high command to ally with the BJP. Currently, Congress is banking on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections to re-emerge as a force in the northern state. "The Congress high command may not take any decision before the UP elections are over," said a person who is in the know of the matter.
But, a senior leader in the Congress said that, Pawar, who is known to have good relations with PM Narendra Modi, would have a tough task at hand to convince the Gandhis of his intentions.