Shiv Sena, BJP to take on NCP in civic polls

While the NCP is battling to retain its stranglehold over Mumbai’s satellite city, the saffron partners are hoping to take control of the civic body from the NCP.



by

Nithin Belle

Published: Tue 21 Apr 2015, 11:12 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:39 PM

Mumbai — Elections to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, to be held on Wednesday, is turning out to be a bitter fight between the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine.

While the NCP is battling to retain its stranglehold over Mumbai’s satellite city, the saffron partners are hoping to take control of the civic body from the NCP. Both the NCP and the Congress are fighting the election separately, though the Sena and the BJP have entered into an alliance.

The Shiv Sena is contesting 68 wards in Navi Mumbai, while the BJP is contesting the remaining 43. Though the BJP managed to win the Belapur assembly constituency last year, it does not have much of a base in Navi Mumbai.

For Ganesh Naik, a powerful NCP leader, Navi Mumbai had for years been a pocket borough, from where he and his family members could easily win elections.

But last year saw the Naik empire crumble in Mumbai’s satellite city.

While Naik lost the Belapur assembly constituency, his son Sanjeev was defeated in the parliamentary elections.

Younger son Sandeep did manage to win the Airoli seat, and a nephew is the mayor of Navi Mumbai. Naik was defeated in the assembly elections by Manda Mhatre, who was earlier with him in the NCP. But just before last year’s assembly elections, Mhatre quit the NCP — accusing Naik of trying to destroy her politically — and joined the BJP.

Mhatre defeated Naik by a narrow margin in last October’s elections. However, her phenomenal rise in the state BJP have led to grumblings within the party and Mhatre has to fight many entrenched leaders in the city. She also does not enjoy a good equation with local Sena leaders.

There was speculation last year that Naik himself might switch over to the BJP, but opposition from Mhatre scuttled his bid, it is believed.

For Naik, this is a do-or-die battle to retain his hold over Navi Mumbai and a prominent place in the NCP.

The upsurge in the price of land in Navi Mumbai, especially after the announcement of the construction of a new greenfield airport at Panvel, has resulted in many of the original dwellers suddenly getting huge sums of money. This has impacted the socio-economic profile of the area, resulting in growing crime.

An analysis of the nominations filed by 500-odd candidates by the Association for Democratic Reforms, reveals that more than a third of the candidates have assets in excess of Rs10 million. Two candidates have declared assets of over Rs1 billion each. And about 10 per cent of the candidates have criminal cases pending against them.

nithin@khaleejtimes.com


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