Mumbai: Former NCP legislator Gilbert Mendonca to join Shiv Sena?

Mumbai: After spending nine months behind bars for his alleged involvement in a land-grabbing case, former NCP legislator Gilbert Mendonca walked out on bail early this week.

Political circles here was abuzz as speculations are rife that the local Shiv Sena leadership is keen to induct Mendonca and his entire team of supporters into its fold. Talks of Mendonca joining Sena were doing the rounds as he could create a mark for the party during the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) elections scheduled in August this year.

The blossoming bonhomie between both the former legislator and Sena leadership is evident by the fact that the top Sena leaders, including MP Rajan Vichare, legislator Pratap Sarnaik and deputy mayor Pravin Patil, have openly welcomed Mendonca after his bail was granted. Now, the Sena leaders seem to be exploring the chances of working together to take on the BJP which has emerged stronger and more dominant in the region.

Credited with leading his party to power for the past more than two decades, Mendonca, who is the face of the NCP, is still undecided and is apparently testing the political waters while exploring options before taking the final plunge, sources said.

Mendonca’s political rise, even after facing the worst phase of his career, is attributed to his ability to adapt to situations. And Sena, banking on Mendonca’s popularity, not only hopes to make its presence felt in the BJP bastions but is also keen to make inroads into several pockets of the twin-city, where it has virtually no base.

In the meantime, Congress is keen to stitch an alliance with the NCP. In the last few months, intense competition between Sena and BJP to woo corporators and leaders from other parties is seen ahead of MBMC elections.

A large section of disillusioned corporators and leaders from NCP and Congress have already taken refuge in the saffron parties.

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