Mumbai corporation polls announced, BJP-Sena alliance not in sight yet

MUMBAI: Even as the dates for 10 municipal corporations, including Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur, were announced on Wednesday, — voting on February 21 and results on February 23 — the BJP and Shiv Sena appear not ready to forge an alliance as their leaders continued to target each other. 

City BJP president Ashish Shela announced that his party is positive about the alliance and the talks would begin on Wednesday. However, he took potshots at the Sena.“Transparent administration is what BJP looks for in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation,” he said.

Relations between the two parties which have shared power in the corporation for past 20 years have been strained in past couple of years after the BJP started raising the issue of corruption in the corporation.
And Sena president Uddhav Thackeray attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi without naming him. “I’ve stopped saying mitron while addressing people in Hindi as people now run away when they hear this word,” he said while criticising demonetisation. 

“I hope we’ll start talks for alliance though I have not received any formal communication in this regard yet,” Thackeray said when asked about alliance. “We shall participate in the talks but, also keep preparing ourselves (to contest polls independently),” he added later.

Thackeray as well as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke in favour of the alliance on Tuesday. While the BJP has empowered district units to decide about the alliance, the Sena wants a uniform decision for all polls, including the zilla parishad and panchayat samities.

The BJP has conducted at least three pre-poll surveys in past two-three months. According to sources, an internal survey has predicted 90 seats  for the BJP if it contests independently. A survey conducted by the home department has predicted 65-70 seats for the BJP while an independent agency appointed by the chief minister put the figure at 85-90. The half-way mark in the corporation is 114. 

Sena’s best performance was 99 seats, in 1997, when it ruled the state. Given its performance in the municipal council polls, the BJP has high hopes now. But it will have to contest more seats.

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