With only four corporators in the 70 member Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), the BJP is eyeing to install its own men as mayor and deputy mayor by dislodging Junaid Azim Muttu and the controversial Sheikh Imran from the posts.
Reports indicate that the state party leadership has initiated an exercise to rope in some independents and others to install its own men on these two top slots of the SMC where the BJP has for the first time got representation.
However, the BJP was reportedly facing hurdles in engineering the coup as it was problematic to influence the Congress corporators whose strength is 17. Peoples Conference (PC) has 15 and National Conference (NC) has 11 corporators in the SMC where independents have the biggest chunk of 23 members.
Muttu, who had resigned from NC and contested the election as independent from four municipal wards, was elected mayor with the support of PC, BJP and some independents. However, the BJP was reportedly contemplating to install its own mayor and deputy mayor.
The deputy mayor Sheikh Imran belongs to Congress.
It is learned that the BJP has tipped its general secretary Arif Raja and Nazir Ahmad Gilkar for the post of mayor and deputy mayor respectively.
It is worth mentioning that the BJP had earlier established cordial relations with the PC chief Sajjad Lone with whom the BJP general secretary Ram Madhav had a series of meetings at his Srinagar residence. There were allegations that Muttu had deserted NC at the behest of the BJP and Lone and was elected mayor last year after the election for the SMC was held.
Sheikh Imran is in the eye of a storm following the Anti-Corruption Bureau recently registering an FIR against him and officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank for alleged irregularities of loans amounting to crores of rupees. The Income Tax department also raided his business establishments in this connection.
Both Muttu and Sheikh Imran were under house arrest since 5 August when the state’s special status was scrapped.