BJP, Sena to cross swords at civic by-poll in Nagpur

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Nagpur, Sep 18 (UNI) Although the two constituents of the Saffron alliance have decided to stay together, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena will cross swords in two of the ten wards of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) where by-elections are slated to be held on October 7.

That the two parties would be pitted against each other became clear after the deadline for withdrawals passed yesterday. Nominees of the BJP as well as the Shiv Sena are in the fray in two wards in spite of the fact that the two parties were together at the civic elections in February last and share power in the civic body.

BJP city unit president Sudhakar Deshmukh has said that the alliance was intact and that his party was engaged in a ''friendly fight'' with its ally in two of the ten wards. On the other hand, Shiv Sena city unit chief Shekhar Sawarbandhe blamed the BJP for ''breaking the alliance''.

''The BJP did not adhere to the principles of alliance,'' he said.

The BJP has fielded candidates in eight of the ten wards were the by-polls are being held. The Shiv Sena has put up a total of three candidates, including two in wards where the BJP is also contesting.

Neither party has fielded a candidate from the remaining one ward.

Incidentally, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have entered into an alliance for the by-election, the first time that the two parties have come together for a civic poll in the city. The Congress is contesting six seats and the NCP four. They had fought separately in the civic polls in Nagpur held in 2002 and in February 2007.

The by-election is being held due to the disqualification of nine councillors after their caste certificates were found invalid, and the death of another. The disqualified members included five from the BJP, including the then mayor Devrao Umredkar, three from the Shiv Sena and one from the Congress. The deceased councillor was from the Congress.

The strength of the 136-member NMC general body has, thus, been reduced to 126. The present party-wise strength is BJP - 50, Shiv Sena - 5, Congress - 31, NCP - 8, BSP - 5, RJD - 3, MNS - 2, Independents - 11 and others - 11.

As per the schedule for the by-election, the symbols will be allotted on September 20. The final list of candidates will be released on September 22. Voting, if necessary, will be held on October 7. The counting will take place on October 8, with the results being declared the same day.

UNI

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