Navi Mumbai: With almost a year of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation functioning without elected representatives, the city administrators, under a vigilant new civic chief Abhijit Bangar, are managing to sail through the corona crisis, to the discomfiture of most local leaders.
However, the local self-government bodies constitute a vital organ of the constitutional structure of Indian democracy. So not holding elections could amount to denial or suppression of democratic rights. Meanwhile, political circles in the city are anticipating the local general polls for 111 electoral wards in the city to be held by March-April 2021.
Election fever has gripped the city. All parties are gearing up. The Maha Vikas Aghadi factions are jubilantly hopeful of usurping Ganesh Naik’s long-standing citadel in the city with several leaders shifting party loyalty sensing ground reality compulsions. Party ideologies matter least for most contenders.
However, the MVA will confront internal strife for seat sharing, which the party bosses hope to surmount without much ado. The dominant Shiv Sena that is looking good in 45-50 seats will demand 75-80 seats. The Congress is presently poised well in hardly 5 seats, but is hopeful of making it good in about 10-12 seats utilizing the power of the alliance partners. But will the alliance partners be willing to concede more seats without electoral merit and just to admit party leaders and their kin is the moot question? The NCP, that took the biggest hit when Ganesh Naik walked out of the party to join ranks
with the BJP, is now looking good only in about 13-15 seats. But bolstered with the strength of the 3-party front and the over 45,000 votes it won in each of the assembly constituencies, Airoli and Belapur, in the last assembly polls, the NCP will certainly eye 35-40 seats. Thus, the 65-35-11 formula looks workable, but will still find confident disgruntled individuals in all parties who will opt to rebel or would be lured to rebel by rivals.
The BJP, though badly split between Ganesh Naik and Manda Mhatre factions, is hopeful of mending the divide for the polls by the party bosses assuming authority and issuing tickets on elective merit to candidates of both factions. Yet with several strong contenders having crossed over to MVA, the BJP will have to induct new faces in several wards to take on the combined strength of the MVA. The BJP is presently looking good only in 38-40 seats out of all the 111 it will contest, making the task herculean for Ganesh Naik to retain hold of the corporation.
The BJP will bank on either the MVA constituents deciding on friendly contests or smaller parties like the MNS, AAP and others denting the MVA ranks or rebels and independents eating into vote shares. The rebels and independent candidates could play spoil-sport for both, the MVA and BJP.
As election fever rages, more aspirants will emerge, but the race appears to be to grab power and the spoils of kickbacks from works executed by the corporation. It will be heartening to await a single candidate who will pledge to stop the low quality and escalated costs of works and services executed by the corporation. All candidates committing to this would usher in a truly ideal governance for the city