Monday, June 4, 2007

IMCP-Sena to share mayoral posts in Malegaon

WINDS OF CHANGE: The Malegaon civic polls have thrown up unexpected political equations

Third Front Team Likely To Visit Mumbai To Meet Balasaheb And Uddhav Thackeray For Final Approval

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
In a two-hour closed-door meeting at Shivneri Bhavan in Malegaon on Saturday night, officebearers of the Indian Muslim Congress Party and Shiv Sena agreed to a sharing arrangement for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor in the Malegaon Municipal Corporation. While the mayor would be from IMCP, the saffron party would get the post of deputy mayor.

This means that the cleric-led IMCP, which as the Third Front substantially dented the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) votebanks in the May 27 civic elections, is a step closer to staking its claim to rule the powerloom town’s civic corporation along with the Sena. While a 37-seat majority is needed to rule the 72-seat civic House, the IMCP bagged 26 seats and the Sena seven. An Independent candidate has also offered them support.

Meanwhile, Congress and JD(S), which are joining hands, have 15 and 12 seats respectively. One Independent has also offered the JD(S) support. The Malegaon House will vote for the mayor on June 13.

A delegation of the Third Front is likely to come to Mumbai to meet Sena chief Bal Thackery and executive president Uddhav Thackery to close the deal. A decision on meeting the Thackerays is yet to be taken. No Sena office-bearer in Malegaon was available for comment.

The Malegaon meeting was attended by the Shiv Sena’s Malegaon (Camp) MLA, Dada Bhuse, taluka pramukh Sanjay Dusane and IMCP office-bearers Maulana Ayyub Qasmi, Ateeque Mahendra and others. Several Sena leaders from Thane and Nashik were also present at the meeting and offered support to the IMCP.

It is learnt that deputy chief minister R R Patil on Saturday spoke to IMCP president Mufti Mohammed Ismail via telephone and assured him of the NCP’s support if the Front did not join hands with the Sena. Sources said that Patil even said that he would speak to chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to get Congress support for the Front. However, the Front declined Patil’s offer, saying the Congress has ruined the city and hampered its development. TOI reported on Sunday that the Congress’s insistence on the mayor’s post for itself has angered the Front IMCP.

“The long-time enemies, the Congress and the Nihal Ahmed-led Janata Dal (Secular), have joined hands to keep the Front out of power. The central government has sanctioned a fund of Rs 200 crore after the serial blasts for the city’s development and these two parties are eyeing the fund and trying to capture power so they can misuse this fund too,’’ alleged Mufti Ismail.

There have been reports that Congress leaders in Mumbai have been told that party bosses in Malegaon are offering money and cars to corporators who will support them for the mayor’s post.

“Malegaon is known for generating the maximum revenue among all powerloom cities in the state. But the poor infrastructure, 10-hour load-shedding and lack of basic amenities are the reasons why people voted for us. We have to fulfil the people’s expectations to improve the state of the city,’’ said the 46-year-old mufti.

NCP will support the Third Front only if it does not join hands with the Sena, said NCP spokesperson Majeed Memon. “The Front’s success is a clear indication that the people have rejected the JD and Congress misrule of the past. We are supporting the Front for the mayor’s seat. We only caution the Front not to join hands with the Sena. If the Front does so, then we will be forced to sit in the opposition,’’ said Memon.

(The Times of India, June 4, 2007)

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