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Post initial itch, Shiv Sena warms up to civic Chief

Party doesn't oppose extension of Subodh Kumar's term by three months as 'Balasaheb thinks he is a good man', but ally BJP isn't very happy

Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar has found an unexpected friend in the Shiv Sena. The Sena, which in the past has been vocal about its displeasure with Kumar's appointment, is all of a sudden supporting the extension of his term as BMC chief.


The government wants BMC boss Subodh Kumar to stay on for
another three months as civic polls are scheduled in February


Kumar is due for retirement on January 31. But with civic polls scheduled for next month, the state government wants him to stay on for another three months.

A proposal to this effect has been sent by the state to the centre. Kumar assumed the post of municipal commissioner when Prithviraj Chavan assumed the chief ministership in 2010. After the Adarsh scam, it was deemed necessary for the civic body to have a clean and strict boss, and Kumar fit the bill, sources revealed.

Frosty encounters
Ever since Kumar's appointment, he has been known to take a strong stand on civic issues, even at the cost of major differences between the administration and the elected representatives, a talking point on several occasions.

His presence at Shiv Sena's functions, such as inaugurations at the hands of party executive president Uddhav Thackeray, was rare, and so was his compliance with the arbitrary demands of party workers.

Just a few weeks ago, MiD DAY had reported ('Mayor tags along with Uddhav to visit dam') how Kumar had refused to give permission to Mayor Shraddha Jadhav for an official visit to the Upper Vaitarna Dam, the centrepiece of the Sena's works for the city.

However, things have changed. The Sena wants him to stay and wouldn't oppose his extension. Senior leaders in the party claim Kumar has got Balasaheb's blessing.

"In one of our meetings with all the corporators, Balasaheb told us that the incumbent municipal commissioner is a good man, and that we should help him in his work," said Sena corporator Rajul Patel. "Both Uddhavji and Balasaheb are happy with his work."

According to Patel, it is decorum that keeps Kumar way from party functions. "He has always maintained that he would attend inaugurations that are done by the administration, but won't attend party functions," she said.
Ally disagrees
While the Sena is gunning for extending Kumar's term, its alliance partner is not very keen on retaining him. The BJP wants Kumar out.

"The commissioner never gave any importance to elected or nominated representatives. He did whatever he felt was right. It is easy to appoint a new commissioner, and the Election Commission can appoint anyone," said a BJP leader. It has also been learnt that the BJP-Sena-RPI alliance is causing several problems for the party.

On Friday afternoon, at the BJP city headquarters in Dadar, party workers from Andheri threatened to mass resign after the party leadership gave a ward in Andheri to the Shiv Sena to contest during the civic polls. Earlier, ward 192, which was held by the BJP but now belongs to the Sena, also saw similar problems.

Volte-face
Sena initially was not very eager on Subodh Kumar for the post of BMC commissioner. For his part, the latter hardly attended any of the party's functions. But now party leadership wants Kumar to stick on till the civic elections next month.

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