Serious differences emerged on Saturday in the Congress party over the issue of extending support to the Shiv Sena for the post of Mayor after a hung house was thrown up in the recent elections to the country’s richest civic body, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.
AICC General Secretary and senior most Congress leader Gurudas Kamat raised “strong objections” to even any discussion of a tie-up or indirect support to the Shiv Sena in the BMC.
“We have fought against both saffron parties all along for their divisive policies, and people will not spare us if we attempt to align with them,” Kamat said in a strongly-worded statement.
“I have also informed Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi of my (this) opinion. I take strong objection to any discussion even, of having any tie-up or indirect support to the Shiv Sena in the BMC,” the former Union Minister added.
He said it should be left to the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to sort out their problems and in the process “expose themselves and their lust for power”.
Kamat’s bombshell came a day after back-end efforts were believed to be underway in Maharashtra Congress to prop up the Shiv Sena for bagging the crucial post of Mayor if its tie-up with the BJP failed to materialize.
State Congress President Ashok Chavan and senior party leader Narayan Rane, a former Chief Minister, have already indicated an open mind on the issue.
“Is the Shiv Sena an enemy? No, there are no enemies in politics, that is my view,” Chavan said.
However, he added that the Congress was not committing anything and is “waiting and watching the unfolding situation”.
“We have to bear in mind that Shiv Sena is also in alliance with BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre. If they leave the government, then we can consider ahead, so let them first decide,” Chavan said.
In the 227-seat BMC house, the Shiv Sena emerged as the biggest party with 84 seats, but is barely a nose ahead of the BJP which has won 82 seats.
The third in queue is Congress with 31, Nationalist Congress Party with nine, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena with seven, Samajwadi Party with six, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen with two, one from a local party, besides five independents.
While Sena has secured support of four independents whose names have been declared, the BJP also claims the backing of four unknown independents.