Mumbai (The Hindu): The BJP, which won 82 seats in the elections to the BMC, on Friday received the support of two more corporators — the Akhil Bharatiya Sena’s (ABS) Geeta Gawli and an independent — to take its tally to 84, its newly-appointed leader in the BMC Manoj Kotak said on Friday. The mayoral election is to be held on March 8, and is expected to be a contest between the BJP, the Sena with 88 corporators including four independents, and Congress with 31 seats.
Ms. Gawli, daughter of convicted gangster Arun Gawli and the lone ABS corporator, decided to go with BJP instead of the Shiv Sena after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened. The third-time corporator said her demands include a place in the BMC Standing Committee and chairpersonship of the civic body’s health committee, a year-long tenure she has completed thrice earlier with the Sena’s backing.
“I received lot of respect and assurances from both BJP and Shiv Sena, but I chose to go with the former after my father suggested we support them. I am also upset with the Sena for putting up a candidate against me in this election; though Uddhavji [Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray] is very respectful and nice to me as our relations date back more than a decade, Sena workers in my area did not treat me well, so I chose to switch my allegiance,” Ms. Gawli said.
She added, “I won my first election when I was just 24 and am currently the senior-most corporator to head the health committee, which is why I’m seeking its chairpersonship again.” Development of her area, Byculla, was also key factor that influenced her decision to support the BJP, Ms. Gawli said.
The independent corporator who extended support to the BJP, Mumtaz Rahebar Khan from Ward No.102, is the wife of Rahebar Khan, a former independent corporator from Bandra. He said he was unaware of his wife’s decision. “We’ll decide who to support before the election on March 8. My wife is unwell.”
Five independents won in the elections, of which four are with the Sena: Changez Multani (Ward No.62), Kiran Landge (Ward No. 160), Snehal Sunil More (Ward No. 123) and Tulshiram Shinde (Ward No. 41). Ms. More and Mr. Shinde are Sena rebels. Mr. Multani said, “We met with our supporters from the United Welfare Education Federation, the NGO that backs me, and most suggested we back the Sena. My constituency is mostly Muslim, and people find the Sena more trustworthy than BJP.” .
He added that by the time the BJP approached him, he had already given his word to the Sena. “In lieu of support, I have asked for development of our local cemetery and improvement of the Oshiwara maternity home. Uddhav Thackeray has promised support.”
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