Al­lies Turned Foes to Test Strength in BMC Polls To­day

BJP has tar­geted Thackeray for cor­rup­tion, while Sena at­tacked BJP top lead­er­ship

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Kr­ishna.Ku­mar@ times­

Mum­bai: The Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion, the rich­est civic body in In­dia, and nine other mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions go to polls on Tues­day, with 91 lakh vot­ers (in Mum­bai) de­cid­ing the fate of top par­ties in the state – Shiv Sena, BJP and the Congress – in what’s billed to be an en­gross­ing con­test. The Shiv Sena, which had been rul­ing the BMC with the BJP, has de­cided to go it alone this time around, but is likely to face stiff com­pe­ti­tion from its for­mer ally.

The part­ners led a bit­ter cam­paign in the run-up to the polls and wasted no op­por­tu­nity to have a go at each other’s lead­ers. The BJP has tar­geted the Sena chief Ud­dhav Thackeray for cor­rup­tion in the BMC and has ac­cused him of hav­ing ties with firms in­volved in money laun­der­ing.

The Sena too at­tacked Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and even Chief Min­is­ter Deven­dra Fadnavis with whom Thackeray en­joyed good equa­tions till re­cently.

The BJP, led by Fadnavis, held 76 ral­lies in the city, with the chief min­is­ter try­ing ev­ery­thing, from an ag­gres­sive tele­vi­sion and me­dia cam­paign to rop­ing in Yogi Adityanath, to at­tract north In­dian vot­ers. The party even lib­er­ally dis­trib­uted tick­ets to turn­coats from the Shiv Sena and other par­ties. But the BJP is not go­ing to find Thackeray a pushover. In 2012, for in­stance, the then Congress Chief Min­is­ter Prithvi­raj Cha­van had said that the Sena was ‘fin­ished’, a state­ment that Thackeray makes fun of, re­mind­ing peo­ple that Sena is still rel­e­vant, but Cha­van is nowhere to be seen.

Sena’s suc­cess comes from the sup­port it re­ceives at the grass­roots level. It has more than one shakha in ev­ery ward and th­ese shakhas look into a range of com­plaints rang­ing from clogged drains, eve teas­ing, to even mar­i­tal dis­putes. So the elec­tions would boil down to a fight be­tween the tech-savy BJP and the grass­roots shakhas of the Sena.

The big­gest ad­van­tage that the Sena has over the other par­ties is it has the

best vot­ing per­cent­age com­pared to other par­ties. For in­stance, ev­ery elec­tion, out of its to­tal sup­port­ers, al­most 85 to 90% come out to vote for the party.

The third chal­lenger is the Congress party, but with the en­try of the Ma­jlise-It­te­had-ul Mus­limeen (MIM), the Congress would find it hard to hold on to its mi­nor­ity vote bank. The party also has to con­tend with dis­cord within the party be­tween its for­mer MP Gu­ru­das Ka­mat and cur­rent Mum­bai Congress chief San­jay Niru­pam.

In the last elec­tions, the MNS ate into the vote bank of the Sena by get­ting 27 seats, but may not get more than 5 to 6 seats this time. This is also one of the rea­sons why the Sena’s vote tally is likely to in­crease.

About 91 lakh vot­ers will ex­er­cise their vot­ing rights for BMC and 9 other mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions

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