Mumbai, Feb 3: The BJP, at the last minute on Friday, cobbled together an alliance with three parties - barring traditional partner Shiv Sena - for the upcoming elections to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.
The BJP finalised a seat-sharing agreement with Republican Party of India-A, Rashtriya Samaj Party and the Shiv Sangram, allotting them a total of 34 seats in the 227-member BMC.
It would also give up the post of deputy mayor for RPI-A, whose president Ramdas Athavale is a union cabinet minister, and had earlier demanded around 45 seats. The deal allots 25 seats to RPI-A, six to the Mahadeo Jankar-led RSP and four to Vinayak Mete-led Shiv Sangram while the BJP will contest 192 wards in the BMC.
These parties comprise the ruling 'Grand Alliance' in Maharashtra which also includes the Shiv Sena which is contesting all the civic bodies elections independently. They also represent the crucial Dalit and Maratha communities on whose backing the BJP is banking on to defeat its ally, Shiv Sena, as well as the formidable opposition comprising Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, AIMIM and others in the fray to capture the country's richest civic body.
The BJP is currently in the process of finalising similar seat-sharing deals with strong local parties in other civic bodies, considered as a 'mini-assembly election' and a mid-term verdict on the performance of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' two-and-a-half-year-old government. Nearly 10 crore voters will exercise their franchise in the two-phased election to 10 municipal corporations, 26 Zilla Parishads and 283 Panchayat Samitis across the state, on February 16 and 21.
Polling for 15 Zilla Parishads and 165 Panchayat Samitis will be held on February 16 and elections to the remaining 11 Zilla Parishads, 118 Panchayat Samitis and 10 Municipal Corporations will be held on February 21. The counting for all the elections will take place simultaneously on February 23 and the results are likely to be declared the same day.
The much anticipated, high-stakes elections will cover 25 of the state's 36 districts with the participation of nearly 85 per cent of the electorate spread across 246 out of the state's 288 assembly constituencies. Elections due to the Nagpur Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samitis under its jurisdiction shall not be conducted due to a Bombay High Court stay.