In a case of ‘strange bedfellows’, sworn political rivals, Congress and ruling ally Shiv Sena, have tied up for the upcoming Raigad Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections here on Wednesday.
The alliance has been forged at the local level. Neither Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray nor Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan were involved, leaders of both parties in Raigad have maintained.
People rubbed their eyes in disbelief as posters and banners with names of local candidates, bearing large images of the late Shiv Sena founder-supremo Bal Thackeray and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other leaders were put up soliciting votes for the ‘Indian National Congress-Shiv Sena’.
The partnerships have been worked out in Alibaug, Pen and Karjat for the February 21 elections.
However, the Congress state leadership has frowned at the unexpected development – and sought a report from the district party leadership.
“We have asked for information on this. The local unit has done it independently without permission from the party leadership and we are looking into it,” a grim MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the move. Its spokesperson Madhav Bhandari reiterated his earlier statement of a ‘match-fixing’ between the Congress-Shiv Sena in the state civic polls.
Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam has strongly refuted the BJP allegations of a ‘match-fixing’, while Thackeray has continued his no-holds barred campaign against partner BJP as elections for the first phase are scheduled on Thursday.
All the major parties – BJP, SS, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena – are fighting the civic polls – described as ‘mini-assembly elections’ independently.
Besides, candidates from parties headquartered in other states like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, scores of local and regional parties are also in the fray.