Ahead of BMC polls: Friction points flare up between Sena, BJP

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THE SHIV Sena and BJP are trading charges over several issues, many involving police cases, as the political atmosphere heats up ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections slated for early next year.

The latest round of allegations between the two former allies started after a cylinder blast in Worli, which led to the death of three people including a five-month-old infant. The BJP has also approached the Bombay High Court against the state’s decision of increasing nine electoral wards in Mumbai, and alleged corruption in the coastal road project and other development projects that have seen cost escalations.

The elections to BMC — the country’s richest municipal corporation — are crucial for the BJP, which was in 2017 the second largest party in the corporation with just two seats less than Sena’s 84. Even though the Sena and BJP were together in the state government at that time, the BJP decided to play ‘watchdog’ to ensure accountability and transparency by refusing partnership with Sena. Within a year, the differences between them increased.

Eyeing an increase in their tally in 2022, BJP leaders in the BMC said they are aiming to defeat the Sena by cashing in on voter fatigue as the Sena has been controlling the BMC for around three decades.

“People want a change in the BMC. Widespread corruption and failure in delivering civic services and development works have an impact on Mumbai’s progress. Sena is an anti-development party. There is no doubt that BJP will get a majority,” said Vinod Mishra, BJP leader in BMC and member of the Standing Committee.
For Sena, the BMC polls will put the incumbency factor to the test. However, the party is hoping to benefit from its handling of Covid-19 in the second wave, for which it has received praise at the national and international levels.

The Sena has been highlighting projects like the coastal road, underground water tanks to mitigate flooding at Hindmata, stormwater drain pumping station, Goregaon-Mulund Link Road to show that it is not an anti-development party. It recently launched the city’s first Mumbai Climate Action Plan to show that they are working to tackle climate change by “aligning development projects” to ensure minimum damage to ecology.

“Sena was born after years of struggle. We have been working on improving facilities in the city. There are some political parties (BJP) who only make allegations to stop development works. Despite these allegations, Sena will focus on development work,” said Yashwant Jadhav, chairman of the Standing Committee.

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