Shiv Sena-BJP vie for Mumbai Mayor post

Mumbai, Feb 24 (IANS) A day after a hung house was thrown up in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation elections, the two biggest parties – Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party – struggled to cobble up sufficient numbers to grab the critical post of Mayor on Friday.

In a major boost to the Sena efforts, two rebels who contested as independents, walked back to the party fold, while an independent corporator extended support.

Party chief Uddhav Thackeray beamed approvingly as this took the Sena tally up from the 84 seats it won, to 87, making it the largest single entity so far in the country’s biggest and richest civic body.

The BJP which came close by bagging 82 seats had claimed the support of four unknown independents and a purported tally of 86 to bid for the mayor’s post.

However, according to the official figures released by the State Election Commission (SEC) late on Thursday, in the current 227-strong BMC house, only five independents were elected.

Three have already joined the Shiv Sena, leaving only two independents ‘unattached’ so far, raising a question mark over BJP Mumbai President Ashish Shelar’s public claim.

The Sena leadership encountered pressures from cadres who expressed vehement opposition to allying with the BJP, as “it would spell the end of the Shiv Sena”.

Prominent Sena activist Subhash Talekar urged Thackeray to solicit support from the Congress, NCP and MNS, but warned against joining hands with the BJP in the interest of the party’s survival.

Union Minister Ramdas Athawale of Republican Party of India (A) urged both BJP and Sena to sit together and hammer out an amicable solution to the issue.

“Both parties have done exceedingly well, but neither have got the clear numbers. I suggest they should discuss and share the post of mayor for two-and-half years each in the interest of Mumbai,” Athawale said in a statement.

He appealed to the Sena to “respect the mandate” of the people in favour of the two saffron parties and not seek support of Congress-NCP for controlling the BMC administration, which has a staggering Rs 37,000 crore budget.

The Congress may consider extending support, but it’s uncomfortable since the Sena continues to be a ruling ally both in Maharashtra and the Centre.

Besides the Shiv Sena (84+3) and BJP (82), the Congress stood third (31), Nationalist Congress Party (nine), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (seven), Samajwadi Party (six), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (two), independents (five) and one from a local party were declared elected.