In yet another blow to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, as many as 66 out of the total 67 former party corporators from the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) have pledged their support to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. In doing so, the Thackeray camp has lost its reins over the Thane MC as well. The tenure of the corporators in the 131-member TMC had ended, and the elections to the civic body are slated to be held later this year.
Thane ex-mayor Naresh Mhaske led a delegation of former corporators on Wednesday night to CM Shinde’s residence at the ‘Nandanvan’ bungalow in Mumbai to express their support towards him, a release from the CM’s office said. Shiv Sena had maintained its firm grip on Thane for the past three decades, with Shinde playing a crucial role. The party has also controlled Kalyan-Dombivali Mahanagar Palike, and the Mira-Bhayander and Palghar civic bodies, again because of Shinde.
However, gaining control of the cash-rich Bombay Municipal Corporation from the Uddhav camp will be at the top of Shinde’s list. With only three of the MLAs from the Shinde camp hailing from Mumbai, and the rest of the MLAs from the financial capital still with Thackeray, the battle is far from over. The battle for the party and its symbol will eventually be decided by the Election Commission of India. There will be clarity on which side the Sena corporators in Mumbai will sway only after the EC decides over the party and its symbol, which is expected to be a long-drawn affair.
Last month, after Shinde led a revolt along with 39 Shiv Sena legislators against former CM Thackeray, the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance collapsed as it fell short of the requisite numbers to run the government. Shinde was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on June 30 while BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as his deputy.