Sena’s Bhagat, Chougule top contenders for Oppn leader
CBD BELAPUR: The Shiv Sena has suffered a setback after losing the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) elections, but its elected representatives are still in the race for lucrative posts, the chief being that of the Opposition leader.
With several top local leaders in the party – most of whom have recently joined the party – the stage is set for an interesting battle within the party.
The race is chiefly between former Shiv Sena Navi Mumbai chief Vijay Chougule and former Cidco director Namdeo Bhagat, who quit the Congress and joined the Sena.
Both f or mer NCP l e aders Shivram Patil of Kopar Khairane and MK Madhvi of Airoli, who quit the party to join the Sena before the elections, are also in the fray.
“There are several senior leaders in the race. I will accept the party’s decision. The party leadership knows who is capable of what and will take a decision accordingly,” said Bhagat.
Chougule, who had to step down from his post of city party chief following his alleged involvement in a rape case, had been sidelined in the party.
He has, however, staked his claim by ensuring the party did extremely well in Airoli, from where he, his son and several of his associates won in the civic election.
“I have been working in the interest of the party. I have neither demanded any post, nor have I been assured of any. Our party committee comprising Eknath Shinde, Rajan Vichare and Vijay Nahata will take a call on it,” said Chougule.
A party source, however, said, “There is hectic lobbying by some leaders to get the important post. Chougule and Bhagat are running close.”
“Chougule has shown his clout through his performance, but is playing low. Bhagat is also a strong contender because of the posts of Cidco director and Congress president he has held in the past,” added the source.
The top Sena leaders have refused to comment on the issue.
In the recently concluded civic elections, the NCP won 52 seats in the 111-member house.
Falling short of a majority, the party claimed it had the five Independent on their side. On Monday, the NCP and the Congress, which has won 10 seats, decided to have an alliance — the first in Navi Mumbai Muncipal Corporation.
The NCP had till now always won the Navi Mumbai civic elections on its own.
The NCP has offered the Congress the post of deputy mayor for two terms and committee chairmanship for each of eight corporators.