Mumbai polls:'Cong must fight alone to retain political space'

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Mumbai, Jan 12 (PTI) The Congress, which shares power with the Shiv Sena and the NCP in the Maharashtra government, should contest all 227 seats in the next year's elections for the Mumbai civic body on its own to ensure that it doesn't lose the political space in the financial capital, city Congress president Bhai Jagtap said on Tuesday.

During his interaction with select media persons, Jagtap stressed the BJP is the main political enemy of the Congress.

'In the 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, the Congress won 31 seats. We lost more than 30 seats by a narrow margin of 500 to 1,000 votes. We will wait for a decision of the party high command on this. Retaining the political space in Mumbai is important,' he said.

Jagtap said contesting the civic poll independently will have no bearing on the MVA alliance.

'When the Congress and NCP were in power (in Maharashtra before 2014) they had fought all local elections independently,' he said.

In the Mumbai civic body, Congress is the main Opposition party while the Shiv Sena and the BJP are ruling parties.

Jagtap reiterated his demands for free water supply for slum-dwellersin Mumbai and the complete waiver of property tax for houses measuring up to 500 sq feet.

The Congress leader said he would soon launch 'padyatras' or foot marches in differnt parts of Mumbai to gauge the mood of the voters and to galvanise the party cadres.

He said the 'padyatras' will begin from Sion Koliwada in February and AICC in charge HK Patil will flag it off.

Jagtap said the Congress was pursuing the property tax waiver issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

'Even though the Shiv Sena-led civic body had passed a resolution to waive property tax of houses up to 500 sq ft and granted 60 per cent concession for tenements measuring up to 700 sq ft in paying the property tax, the then BJP government waived only 17 per cent 'general component' of the property tax,' Jagtap claimed.

He said the Congress will also seek change in the Development Control (DC) rules in view of the growing population and taking into consideration the need for more affordable housing in Mumbai.

He demanded that civic ward reservation should be changed for the upcoming civic polls.

'The BJP is our principal opponent,' he said. PTI MR NSK NSK