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2012 polls: Cong-BJP play farmville

The civic polls are just around the corner and not surprisingly, the poaching before the announcement of candidates has already begun. First up to claim bragging rights is the BJP

The BJP's Mumbai party president has taken the loss of its once loyal leader Praveen Chedda to the Congress on Friday as a serious challenge. Within 24 hours, the saffron party on Saturday poached veteran Congress corporator Suresh Golatkar.

"If the Congress takes two of our members we will take four from their party. They started the trend and we, within 24 hours, have managed to get one of their members. We will get a few more," claimed a belligerent Raj Purohit, the Mumbai BJP chief

If his claims are to be believed, several Congress and NCP corporators are willing to join the BJP. "We are in talks with many members of the Congress and NCP and they will soon shift to BJP," Purohit reaffirmed.

Purohit's remarks, however, haven't gone down too well with the Congress. Rajhans Singh, leader of opposition in the BMC and senior Congress leader said, "If it's about setting a record, then I can also say that the whole of the BJP and even the Shiv Sena are joining us."

A senior BJP leader explained the defection game more subtly, saying, "What is happening in these elections is not unheard of. People who are unhappy often shift parties during elections. We will see a lot of people shifting loyalties before filing nominations in the first week of February."

Meanwhile, the saffron alliance that recently included the Republican Party of India (Athavale), is busy trying to come to a consensus on the seat-sharing for the upcoming elections. The RPI (A) has demanded 30 of the 227 constituencies in the city. "The seat sharing decision has almost been taken, we will soon come out with the distribution list," Eknath Khadse, BJP veteran and the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra legislative assembly said.

Not so coincidental
Praveen Chedda, the BJP corporator from Ghatkopar, has been a BJP loyal for nearly two decades. Suresh Golatkar, who has been with the Congress since 2007, is also a corporator from Ghatkopar. Both their current constituencies are reserved for woman candidates for the forthcoming elections and they are both eyeing the adjacent constituencies.

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