MUMBAI: BJP, which is trying to ensure its nominee becomes the next Mayor of Mumbai, today claimed support of Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS) corporator Geeta Gawli. "She has decided to support BJP," a senior BJP leader told PTI today.
"With her support, our strength has gone up to 86, as three other corporators have already backed us," the leader claimed. Gawli, the lone winning candidate of the ABS in the recent elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), was being wooed by both the Shiv Sena and the BJP as the two parties vie to take control of the civic body.
Gawli (34), the eldest daughter of convicted gangster Arun Gawli, had met Sena leaders Eknath Shinde and Anil Desai to work out the modalities of her support to the Shiv Sena, and later Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis before making up her mind.
The ABS had helped the Shiv Sena-BJP combine in 2012 to prove their majority in the House. The Sena-BJP combine at that time had a strength of 106 and were short of eight votes to ensure the selection of their mayor.
On Tuesday, the Sena appointed Yashwant Jadhav, a senior corporator, as its group leader. Jadhav, with 88 corporators including four independent corporators, registered themselves with the Konkan Divisional Commissioner as a group.
BJP has named Manoj Kotak as the party's group leader in BMC. BJP and Shiv Sena, despite being partners in the state and central governments, had fought the recently-held civic polls separately. The elections to the 227-member BMC threw up a hung verdict, with the Sena winning 84 seats and the BJP 82.
Congress finished on the third spot with 31 seats, NCP got nine corporators while Raj Thackeray's MNS bagged seven seats. Shiv Sena has claimed support of some Independent candidates. The next Mayor of Mumbai will be elected during the first meeting of the new House on March 8 and Saturday is the last day for filing nominations for the post.