86 of these wards are currently with the Sena, which holds the reins of the BMC with allies BJP and RPI
With all the seat-sharing pacts inked and most of the disgruntled voices muted, the battle lines are firmly drawn for sway over the richest municipal agency in the country. The scenario emerging now shows the Shiv Sena will take on the Congress in 94 wards. The Sena will also face off with NCP on 41 seats, a contest that will be keenly watched especially after the recent developments between the two parties.
Still friends! Sena MP Anand Paranjpe (left) defecting to Pawar's party
has so far not had any impact on the latter's long-standing friendship
with Bal Thackeray, but the bond is likely to be tested in the upcoming
polls. file pic
Of the 94 wards where Sena and Congress compete, 55 are currently with the former, 33 with the latter, three with the MNS and two each are represented by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and independents.
31 of the 41 wards where Sena takes on the NCP are at present with the former, four with the latter, two each with MNS and independents and one with the SP.
Following the recent tiff between Sena and NCP where some prominent leaders, such as Sena MP Anand Paranjpe and NCP MLC Subhash Bhoir changed sides, the contest has acquired some extra zest. Things could get interesting with the enduring friendship between Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
As of now, despite NCP poaching Sena's Kalyan MP Paranjpe, Thackeray senior is not ready to snap his cordial relations with Pawar. It may be recalled that NCP did not team with the Congress in the 2007 civic polls.
Ward for ward
On the other hand, BJP will be locked in battle with Congress in 48 wards and with NCP in 15. Among the 48 wards where the two national parties face off, 25 are currently represented by Congress corporators, 20 by the BJP, two by independents and one by MNS.
Of the 15 wards where BJP is fighting NCP, eight are with the ruling party, six are with the latter and one is with SP. The Ramdas Athawale-led RPI has been allocated 29 wards by Sena-BJP. Out of these, three were already with RPI, but two of the corporators have defected to Congress. Of the four wards where RPI crosses swords with NCP, two are represented by Sharad Pawar's party and one each by MNS and independents.
>> Analysts say Sena and BJP leaders will have a lot more homework to do as Raj Thackeray-led MNS will be fielding its candidates in all the 227 wards and is seen as a far greater force than in 2007 when it was a neophyte.
>> Still, in the 2009 elections to the state assembly it was revealed that Sena-BJP lost 42 seats due to division of votes with MNS. BJP ended up losing the most, as its candidates fielded against MNS candidates did not get the expected quota of Marathi votes.
>> Taking a cue from the previous experience, BJP while announcing its first list of 32 contestants on Tuesday, included 20 Marathi candidates.
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