Six corporators of Raj Thackeray’s MNS defect to Uddhav’s Shiv Sena

Mumbai, Oct 13 (IANS) In a major political development, six of the seven Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporators of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday walked over to the rival Shiv Sena.

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray warmly welcomed the six corporators into the party, terming it as “homecoming”, at his residence ‘Matoshri’ in Bandra east this evening.

The group of six MNS corporators – Archana S. Bhalerao, Harshala A. More, Ashwini A. Matekar, Parmeshwar T. Kadam, Dattaram S. Narvankar, and Dilip B. Lande – have sought permission of the Konkan Divisional Commissioner to be recognized as a separate group.

Now, the sole MNS corporator left in the BMC is Sanjay R. Turde, whose moves were scuttled at the last minute for some unknown reasons, said informed sources.

Surprisingly, the MNS leadership appeared unruffled and has not reacted officially to the development, giving rise to speculation of a hidden political understanding with Shiv Sena.

However, the move comes as a major shock to Sena ally, Bharatiya Janata Party which on Thursday proclaimed that “very soon, a BJP Mayor would rule over the BMC”, after the party bagged the Bhandup ward in the civic by-elections on Thursday.

Taken aback by the sudden turn of events barely hours after the party was decimated in Nanded civic elections, the BJP cried foul and hurled allegations of “horse-trading” by lodging complaints with the Maharashtra State Election Commission, Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Konkan Development Commissioner.

Buoyed by Thursday’s victory in the Bhandup civic by-poll, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had declared that now the Shiv Sena had 84 corporators and the BJP 83.

“Very soon, the BJP will become 84 and our Mayor will be appointed,” Somaiya had claimed.

According to sources, the Sena burnt the midnight oil to work out its political strategy to avert the possibility of losing its control over the country’s richest municipal body, with Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar playing a key role in weaning away the MNS corporators.

Talking to the media this evening, Uddhav Thackeray pointed out that the incoming MNS corporators are all former Shiv Sainiks.

“This is not a defection.. It’s a ‘home-coming’ to the party which they left a few years ago,” he remarked, tying auspicious red threads on the wrists of each corporator symbolizing ‘Shiv-Bandhan’.

To a question on the BJP allegations of ‘buying’ over the MNS corporators, Thackeray shot back: “Donkeys should not talk about horse-trading. Why does it trouble them? If BJP really considers us their friends, they should celebrate with us.”

“This is not a setback to anybody or a sabotage. This strengthens our party. When others do it, it is called ‘pride’, when we do it they label it as ‘treachery’. The Bhandup civic bypoll was won by BJP only on a sympathy vote,” Thackeray said.

In the 227-member BMC, the current party-wise position now is: Shiv Sena 91 and three independents, BJP 83 and two independents, Congress 30, Nationalist Congress Party nine, MNS one, Samajwadi Party six and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) two corporators.

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