All big parties have started their preparations for the BMC polls; however, the Congress seems to be sleeping.
NEW DELHI: Opposition parties in Maharashtra say that the Brihanmubai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections could happen after monsoon (June-July). The last election was held in 2017. The tenure of BMC elections is 5 years and the next elections were supposed to be held in late 2022. A party insider said, “The elections could happen anytime between July and October.”
BMC had single-handedly been ruled over by Shiv Sena for the last 25 years and the simple consideration is that whoever is in charge of the country’s financial capital, rules the state. There have been many parties which have run Maharashtra, but no one could shake Shiv Sena’s stronghold on BMC. However, the times have changed. Shiv Sena is vertically split into the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena and the erstwhile breakaway faction led by Eknath Shinde which has now been designated by the Election Commission as the real Shiv Sena.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), at the same time, is also expecting a large set of seats and has accordingly set a target of winning 150 out of 227 seats in the upcoming BMC polls. Leaders in the saffron party say the party is also encouraging Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (UBT) led Shiv Sena faction workers to join the BJP.
Sources within the BJP say that the saffron party leaders had asked the cadre to approach the BMC polls with an “abhi nahi toh kabhi nahi (if not now, then never)” spirit. A BJP leader said, “It was told to wholeheartedly pursue the elections and to make efforts to defeat the Uddhav-led Shiv Sena local polls.”
Party leaders in Maharashtra say that all the big parties have started their preparations for the BMC polls. However, the Congress seems to be sleeping and there is hardly any effort from the party cadre to prepare for the elections. Moreover, political observers say, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is seen to have received a boost from winning the recently held Member of Legislative Council seats ahead of the all-important BMC elections.
A political analyst in the state said, “BJP-backed nominee was defeated in the recently held legislative council elections in Nagpur. It has its relevance and will cast its shadow on the coming elections. It is seen as a setback for the saffron party as Nagpur is the home constituency for Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankuke.”
Another significant situation for the saffron party is that after the Shiv Sena rebellion in June last year, which brought down the MVA government, and brought back the BJP in power, the saffron party has been unable to win any elections that took place in the state, be it the Andheri (East) bypoll, or the Legislative Council elections.
Currently, the BMC is run by Iqbal Singh Chahal, a 1989 batch IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre. He is the Municipal Commissioner & Administrator of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.