Three days after the five-year tenure of the civic body ended on August 27, the fate of four BJP corporators who had apparently abstained or cross-voted during the mayoral polls in February 2020 continues to hang in balance.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who also heads the urban development department (UDD), chaired a hearing in his capacity as an appellate authority via video-conferencing to decide the fate of the logjam.
While BJP corporators, including Geeta Jain (now a legislator), Parshuram Mhatre and Ashwin Kasodaria, had indulged in cross-voting to favour the rival Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), Vijay Rai had abstained from the election proceedings which were held on February 26 last year.
Despite the cross-voting, the polls were a cakewalk for Jyotsna Hasnale and Hasmukh Gehlot (both BJP), who were elected as mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, in a straight contest with the MVA.
The local BJP leadership had sought disqualification, supported by claims that despite serving official whips, the members had indulged in the anti-party act. In response to a writ petition filed by Gehlot, the Bombay High Court had directed the Konkan Commissioner to take a decision on merit, after hearing both sides as early as possible. However, the petition was dismissed, prompting Gehlot to move the judiciary once again.
This time, the court directed the UDD to decide upon the matter. The hearing which was earlier scheduled to be held on Monday, was postponed and held by the CM on the online platform on Tuesday. Both sides kept their views before the authorities.
Notably, Geeta Jain, who went on to get elected as an independent in the assembly polls, had recently accompanied the Shinde-led rebel members to Guwahati. Although the term of the civic body has ended, it will be interesting to see if the verdict by the UDD is pronounced by keeping aside political affiliations.