Eye on civic polls, Shiv Sena to use fes­ti­vals to tar­get BJP

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Manasi Phadke manasi.phadke@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Res­cuers look for sur­vivors after a pow­er­ful pre-dawn earth­quake rocked cen­tral Italy. At least 120 peo­ple were killed as build­ings were re­duced to rub­ble.

With the Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (BMC) elec­tions just six months away, the Shiv Sena plans to cap­i­tal­ize on two of Mum­bai’s most pop­u­lar fes­ti­vals — dahi handi and Gan­pati — to campaign for the polls, pri­mar­ily tar­get­ing its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The fight is set to start in south Mum­bai, a strong­hold for both the par­ties. Akhanda Ma­ha­rash­tra (un­di­vided Ma­ha­rash­tra) will be the theme of Sena’s events for both the fes­ti­vals in south Mum­bai. The Sena’s plan is to project the BJP as a party that opts for smaller states by di­vid­ing Ma­ha­rash­tra into var­i­ous parts. They want to tell peo­ple the Sena is com­mit­ted to keep Ma­ha­rash­tra in­tact, with Mum­bai as its right­ful part.

Pan­durang Sak­pal, a se­nior Shiv Sena leader from south Mum­bai, said, “The theme is sig­nif­i­cant not just for Vi­darbha, but even for the Mum­bai civic polls. To­day, BJP lead­ers have made state­ments about the pos­si­bil­ity of a sep­a­rate Vi­darbha, to­mor­row they may talk about carv­ing out a sep­a­rate iden­tity for Mum­bai.”

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