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BMC waits for final outcome of Sena-BJP war of nerves

Even as Shiv Sena and BJP remain locked in a tug of war over the former’s support to the new Government in Maharashtra, an air of uncertainty prevails about their ties in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where the two parties are still allies.

As Sena legislators occupied Opposition benches in Assembly, holding a special three-day session during which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will seek a trust vote, speculation is rife over the stand the two saffron parties will take vis-a-vis their alliance in the cash rich civic body, which they are ruling for about two decades.

“We are awaiting a decision to be conveyed to us by our party leadership. Whatever will happen (about alliance), will happen soon,” BJP Group leader Manoj Kotak said.

He was asked about the future of Sena-BJP alliance in BMC, which boasts of an annual budget that is bigger than the budget of some small states in the country.

“We will not hesitate to sit in the Opposition if our leaders wish so. We cannot allow the Sena to have a free run in the BMC like in the past,” said another BJP Corporator.

A Sena Corporator, when asked if the party will forge an alliance with Raj Thackeray-led MNS and Congress along with smaller parties and Independents, said a decision will be taken once the picture on the state front becomes clearer.

“Let us wait till the special session (of Assembly) gets over. We will have a clearer picture then,” he said.

Shiv Sena and BJP split just two weeks ahead of the October 15 Assembly polls after they failed to reach to an understanding on sharing of seats. However, the two parties have maintained a stoic silence over their ties in BMC.

According to experts, barring minor tussles now and then, nothing much will change with regards to functioning of BMC even if Sena and BJP go their different ways.

BMC has 227 seats and a party or a coalition requires 115 seats to prove majority. Currently, the Sena has 75 seats and BJP 31 and they have the support of Independents.

As per the power-sharing agreement, Sena holds the Mayor’s post and BJP that of Deputy Mayor. The two have also split chairmanship of key committees between themselves.

In case the BJP decides to withdraw support in the House, the BMC will continue with “business as usual” except for some minor hiccups in policy decisions, the experts said.

“The Mayor and Deputy Mayor have already been elected. So there is no threat to them for the next two-and-a-half years. There can only be a squabble between BJP and Sena over the different committees of BMC,” said Milind Mhaske, Director of Praja Foundation, an NGO.

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