BJP, Sena in a tussle over PMC mayoral elections

Pune: The Shiv Sena’s move to field candidates for the mayoral post in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) could soil the BJP’s pitch in the city.On Wednesday, the city BJP unit had announced the candidature of senior party leader Mukta Tilak for the top post. However, the Sena, despite not having the requisite numbers in the PMC, later fielded Sangeeta Thosar and Vishal Dhanawade for the mayor and the deputy mayor’s post.The moves comes as a surprise as the BJP had extended support to its saffron ally, the Sena, by not fielding any candidates for the mayor’s post in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).The mayoral election will take place on March 15, when the new civic body comes in being.The Sena had secured 10 of the 162 seats in the PMC. The BJP, on the other hand, had snared 98 seats. BJP in Nashik, PimpriLikewise, the Sena, too, has not fielded any mayoral candidates in the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC), paving the way for the BJP there. The party has fielded Ranjana Bhansi and Prathamesh Gite for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor. Both filled their nomination forms on Thursday.The BJP had swept the NMC as well by winning 67 of the 122 seats. The Sena had put up a decent show by bagging 34 seats. Meanwhile, after much internal wrangling in selecting a mayoral candidate to the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), the BJP finally announced Nitin Kalaje and Shailaja More as their nominee for the mayor and deputy mayor post.Both Mr. Kalaje and Ms. More filed their nominations on Thursday for the mayoral elections, scheduled on March 14 during a special general body meeting.Like the PMC, the BJP had won a massive landslide in the PCMC as well, bagging 77 of the 128 seats, and breaking the decade-long hold of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) there.However, the party faced difficult in selecting a mayoral candidate there owing to the infighting between two heavyweight BJP leaders Laxman Jagtap and Mahesh Landge (former NCP stalwarts), who wanted their respective candidates for the top job in the cash-rich PCMC.The BJP’s win the PCMC is widely attributed to the machinations of Mr. Jagtap and Mr. Landge, who pulled in a large number of their supporters into the BJP’s fold.This time, the mayor’s post has been reserved for an OBC candidate for the first two-and-a-half years. The BJP’s candidates are expected to be elected virtually unopposed, as the NCP, led by senior leader Ajit Pawar, and the Sena, have decided not to field any candidate in the PCMC.The NCP won only 36 seats in in the PCMC, their former bastion, following the steady defections of their top leaders in the area, most of whom joined the BJP before the civic polls.