Cong non-committal on backing Sena; goes in wait and watch mode

In the bitterly fought BMC elections, Sena had won 87 seats, BJP secured 82, Congress was relegated to the third position with 31 seats.

Mumbai: With the BMC elections producing a fractured verdict, expectations are strong that Maharashtra Congress would consider the option of enabling the Shiv Sena to foist its candidate as Mayor of the civic body.

The Congress, which managed to secure only 31 seats in the 227-member House, however, is unlikely to rush to a decision, preferring to wait till the crucial elections to the five states are over.

The tally of Shiv Sena, which emerged as the single largest party after the counting on Thursday, has risen to 87 corporators with three party rebels who won as Independent nominees returning to its fold yesterday.

This gave a slight push to Uddhav Thackeray's efforts to cobble up numbers but reaching the magic figure of 114 seats needed to rule the crucial civic body is still a far cry. He however, continued to maintain that the coveted Mayor's post will be held by Sena only.

"Party workers feel Sena is a lesser evil than the BJP," said a Congress state office-bearer, who did not wish to be identified.

The party, however, would refrain from any open discussion or statement about this until the results of UP and other state Assembly polls are out, considering the political implications of such a move could have a bearing on its prospects.

Senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde said the party is yet to take a decision on the issue, while MPCC chief Ashok Chavan chose to remain non-committal on making any open statement.

Even the proponents of the idea of backing Sena, said a final call will be taken by the party's central leadership after considering the pros and cons of entering into overt or covert trucks with a saffron party, known for its aggressive stand on certain issues, which is diametrically opposed to the secular plank of the Congress.

On the other hand, BJP which notched up 82 seats in the Mumbai civic polls after fighting separately under the leadership of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, has said it won't compromise on the issue of transparency in BMC administration, which was the party's poll plank.

Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar, who met Fadnavis with city unit functionaries and people's representatives before the BJP core committee meet held at the CM's official residence 'Varsha' yesterday ruled out any tie up with Congress in BMC, to reach the figure needed for majority.

In the bitterly fought BMC elections, Shiv Sena had won 84 seats (now 87), BJP secured 82, Congress was relegated to the third position with 31 seats, whereas the NCP and Raj Thackeray-led MNS finished with nine and seven seats respectively.

Besides, AIMIM got two seats, Samajwadi Party 6, Akhil Bhartiya Sena 1 and Independents 5 (of which 3 have now joined the Sena).

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