After the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) held a protest outside the office of municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal last week to get its locked party office opened, former corporators from the BJP too descended on the civic headquarters to make a similar request on Monday. The sealing of all party offices happened last week after the two Sena factions – Shiv Sena (UBT) and Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (BSS) – sparred over office space at the BMC.
Vinod Mishra, Prabhakar Shinde, Bhalchandra Shirsat and Krishnaveni Reddy were the former corporators who demanded that the locked BJP party office in the civic headquarters be opened. “We told Chahal that the quarrel was between the Thackeray and Shinde factions, so why should other parties suffer?” said Mishra. “He told us that he would consider our demand.”
The former BJP corporator added that though the civic body had been dissolved, elected representatives continued to remain the only link between citizens and the BMC for the resolution of civic issues. “Where will citizens go?” he demanded. “Chahal agreed that we are the only link. But on the day of the face-off between the two Sena factions, former mayor Kishori Pednekar sent a message and called for the shutting down of all party offices that evening. The Sena (UBT) thanked Chahal for locking all party offices and then protested the next day. This is wrong.”
Kishori Pednekar, former mayor and Sena corporator from the UBT faction told Hindustan Times that on the day there was a ruckus between the two Sena factions, she got a call from the municipal secretary’s office to sign on certain documents pertaining to the locking of the offices. “I spoke to Chahal and requested him to open the office, and told him we had no problem sitting with the Shinde faction in the same office,” she said. “They are not our enemies. In politics, nobody is a forever friend or a forever enemy. But Chahal didn’t agree.”
Pednekar said that on March 8, 2022, Chahal had issued a circular to lock all party offices after the dissolution of the BMC. “At that time when Rakhi Jadhav, Ravi Raja, Rais Shaikh, Vishaka Raut and I requested him to open the office, he had done so,” she said. “But this time he wouldn’t because of the violence that happened. The police had to be called to the BMC because of the scuffle.”
Pednekar then told Chahal that shutting down only the Sena office would not be fair. “I told him to implement the March 8 circular and shut down all party offices,” she said, adding that she was glad that Chahal respected her view. “Last week, Thane residents from the Shinde faction had come to the BMC. What was their business to visit BMC and create a ruckus?” she asked.
The Sena (UBT) is contemplating moving court on the issue but civic sources said that this was legally unsound—as the corporation was dissolved on March 7 last year, the 227 sitting corporators are defunct.