With the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation elections throwing up a hung verdict, all eyes are now on the next moves of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.
With 26 corporators under his belt, Thackeray is caught in a catch-22 situation. He will have to decide whether to support Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine to form the new civic government in return for the mayor's post.
Shiv Sena-BJP with 40 seats and Congress-NCP with 30 need MNS to capture power. According to sources, if Thackeray choses to support the Sena-BJP, he will lose credibility.
He had campaigned extensively against the "bad governance" of the Sena-BJP in the KDMC during its 15 year tenure. It remains to be seen if MNS repeats its act of supporting the Sena like it did in neighbouring Ambernath in May this year.
Six corporators of MNS had supported the Sena-BJP to win the president's election in the Ambernath Municipal Council despite the saffron combine having less councillors than the Congress-NCP.
Congress sources said the party is not interested in taking MNS support. Majority of the 11 independents are supporting the Congress-NCP.
Meanwhile, MNS sources said they will not approach anybody for support. "Our development blueprint is ready and our commitment is for development of Kalyan-Dombivali and the Marathi agenda. We have supported others so far. Now it is up to others to decide on supporting us on the development agenda," they said.
According to them, if any party approaches MNS for support, it will be considered and the final decision would be taken by Thackeray.
Congress sources said the Adarsh housing controversy affected the party's prospects. "We were aiming for at least 25 seats and ended up winning only 15. We lost at least ten seats with the margin of 50 to 100 votes. This shows that the floating voters voted against us," they said.
According to the Congress, NCP supported independent MLA Ganpat Gaikwad from Kalyan east assembly constituency fielded his Vikas agadhi candidates in 12 wards against Congress nominees. "This also hampered our prospects," sources said.