BMC polls: Shiv Sena promises sops; BJP stings with bad road barb

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Amid uncertainty over formation of alliance for BMC polls, Shiv Sena today tried to steal a march over BJP by announcing sops including waiver of property tax for small tenements if voted back to power, only to be countered by the combative ally which said the civic body has no right to levy street tax until roads are rid of potholes.

As Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackery skirted the issue of possible tie-up with BJP, its Mumbai unit president Ashish Shelar said there was nothing new in the Sena chiefs promise that no property tax will be applicable for houses with carpet area of up to 500 sq ft.

Shelar said this demand was originally raised by him as a legislator with the state government, which gave a positive response to it.

Earlier in the day, Thackeray said: “There is a big question mark on housing and health sector in the city. We have thus decided that for existing homes having a carpet area of upto 500 sq ft, property tax will be completely waived off and for homes upto 700 sq ft, there will be a concession in property taxes.”

Taking a dig at BJPs “Acche Din” tagline for the 2014 elections, the Sena chief said, “There was an election jumla of Acche Din, (but) I do not indulge in such jumlas. What I promise, I fulfil.”

The sharp exchange came against the backdrop of the BJP staking claim to contest 115 out of total 227 seats of BMC. So far, the talks between the warring allies over tie-up for the February 21 election have come unstuck.

Thackeray has set a deadline of January 21 for wrapping up the negotiations as he would announce his decision on the eve of late Sena chief Bal Thackerays birth anniversary that falls on January 23.

He also said that housing societies which indulge in activities like rain water harvesting, use solar electricity, they will be given additional benefits by BMC.

“Citizens in the city, apart from the services they get at civic-run hospitals, will be given free health services under the Balasaheb Thackeray health cover scheme and that he would announce more schemes in the election manifesto,” he said. Within hours of the announcement, the BJP raised the issue of the “pothole-ridden roads” to silence Sena, the main ruling party at BMC.

“Our stance is that BMC has no right to levy street tax till roads in the city become pothole-free,” Shelar said, adding they have proposed this point in upcoming manifesto.

“BMC gets around Rs 500 to 600 crore as revenue through street tax but the condition of the roads is pathetic. That is why, we feel that citizens should get relief from the tax terrorism of the corporation,” he said.

On property tax waiver promised by Thackeray, BJP has produced a 2015 cabinet note which had taken a decision to provide relief to small tenements. PTI MM VT NM G

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