Days after six of the seven Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporators in the BMC made a shock defection to the rival Shiv Sena, reports of four of these corporators launching negotiations for a re-entry into their parent political outfit shook up the city’s politics.
While MNS leaders claimed talks with these party prodigals were underway, the Shiv Sena issued a press release signed by all six corporators claiming that their loyalties lay with the Sena.
MNS leaders said the developments may have been prompted by their complaints to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) alleging that these defections were prompted by financial inducements. Sena sources claimed that the BJP, which is trying to wrest power from them in the BMC may be playing the role of the catalyst to reduce the Shiv Sena’s bench strength in the BMC.
The defection of the six MNS corporators had increased the Shiv Sena’s strength to 94, thus solidifying its claim on power. Shiv Sena MLC Anil Parab claimed that the claims by the MNS were false. “We the six undersigned corporators are with the Shiv Sena and will stay so. No one should believe rumours. Someone is trying to defame us,” said a statement by former MNS group leader Dilip Lande and signed by corporators Ashwini Matekar, Parmeshwar Kadam, Datta Narwankar, Dr Archana Bhalerao and Harshala More. When contacted by DNA, some of these corporators denied being in touch with the MNS.
“At around 2- 2:30 PM, MNS leaders Nitin Sardesai, Sandeep Deshpande and Sandeep Dalvi met Kadam, Narwankar, and Harshala More’s husband Ashish at a coffee shop on Cadell Road in Mahim. One of these three spoke to Raj saheb (MNS chief Raj Thackeray) on the phone. However, the Sena leadership got wind of these plans and launched damage control,” said an MNS leader.