In a major setback to Maharashtra Congress in Mumbai, seven former Congress corporators of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) joined the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena on Saturday.
Interestingly, most of these corporators are from Dharavi, the constituency of Congress MLA and Mumbai Congress president Varsha Gaikwad.
Apart from the Congress corporators, former Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Tukaram Kate and former BMC corporator Samruddhi Kate also joined the Shinde-led Sena. They all joined the Shiv Sena in the presence of Shinde, who welcomed them into the partyfold. While Tukaram is Sena shakha pramukh, Samruddhi was upshakha pramukh.
Former MLA of Mumbai’s Anushakti Nagar, Tukaram Kate joined the Shiv Sena along with several of his workers. “We joined the Shiv Sena to contribute to the transformation of Maharashtra and Mumbai under the leadership of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde,” said Tukaram Kate.
Many workers along with Kate and his wife and Samruddhi Kate also joined the Shiv Sena.
Following the vertical split in the Shiv Sena (undivided) in June last year, several corporators from the Sena (UBT) have joined the Shinde-led Sena. So far around 15 Sena (UBT)’s former BMC corporators have joined the Shinde-led Sena.
However, this is the first time that such a large number of Congress corporators from Mumbai have joined the Shinde Sena.
The seven Congress former BMC corporators from Mumbai, who resigned from the party on Saturday and joined the Shinde Sena, include corporator Pushpa Koli from Sion Koliwada, Wahid Qureshi from Chandivali, Kunal Bhaskar Shetty from Dharavi, Babbu Khan from Dharavi, Kunal Mane and his wife Ganga Mane (Dharavi) and Jyotsna Parmar.
Four of these former corporators belong to the constituency of newly appointed Mumbai Congress president Varsha Gaikwad.
A former corporator said he resigned from the Congress and joined the Shinde Sena as he got tired of Gaikwad’s working style. He said due to this, Congress has suffered a big blow in the run-up to the elections.
Former Andheri Congress corporator Sushma Rai has already joined the Shinde group and with this five more corporators, a total of six Congress former corporators have joined Shinde.
With the joining of these seven former Congress corporators the total of number of former corporators who have joined the Shinde faction since June last year is now around 23 from across the Sena (UBT), Congress and NCP.
“Ever since the Shiv Sena joined hands with the BJP, its natural ally, on the issue of Hindutva, many people from the Sena UBT have come back to the Shiv Sena. It includes many prominent names such as MLA Neelam Gorhe to Manisha Kayande and Sheetal Mhatre. Shinde showed his willingness to work and people’s belief in him is a strong reason for this,” a Sena functionary said.