Despite Split with BJP how Sena still plans to win BMC

Monday, January 30, 2017

"One of the Padma awards was probably 'gurudakshina' (a gift for a teacher)... today the nation wants to know not what I have to say, but what the Shiv Sena has to say (to it)": Uddhav Thackeray thundered.

The Shiv Sena's comment came a day after Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's name was announced in the Padma awards lists. Mr Pawar has received Padma Vibhushan - the second highest civilian honour in the country after the Bharat Ratna.

Modi conferring Padma Vibhushan to Sharad Pawar of ‘Naturally Corruption Party’ (NCP) apparently triggered Shiv Sena's wrath. Amidst loud cheers and sloganeering from party activists, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday announced break of alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming civic polls, including in Mumbai, in the state. Current alliance agreements is to stay but no more future alliances! Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray says his party will hereafter have no alliance for any of the municipal corporation and zilla parishad polls. 

“In 50 yrs of Sena, 25 years were wasted because of alliance. We're not greedy for power” Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray while lashing out at the BJP's demand for 114 of the 227 seats in the BMC, which is India's richest. The Shiv Sena was willing to part with just 60 seats compared to the 70 that were given to the BJP in 2012.

Accordingly, as of now, Shiv Sena is to contest alone in BMC polls in Mumbai. The BMC polls will be held on February 21, and results will be announced on the 23rd. “I will not go into alliance, from now the fight has started” Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on BMC elections

A senior BJP leader said it was now too late to salvage the talks. "Although the Sena would be ready to leave 90-95 seats for us, the dispute would then continue over the wards they wish to contest," he said.

According to DNA, Shiv Sena was banking on the Maharashtrian vs non-Maharashtrian undercurrent after the Shiv Sena-BJP spilt to see them through in the BMC polls. This would also help the Sena overcome the anti-incumbency after ruling the cash-rich civic body for two decades (four consecutive terms). The party is also banking on an anti-BJP sentiment in the trading classes, who form one of the core constituencies of the BJP over the demonetisation exercise and claims that its Hindutva agenda will help swing these votes into their kitty.

Arun Giri an avid polling enthusiast & critique tweeted "Marathi voter in Mumbai will not trust BJP... Sena calculations - retain its 73 wards in BMC, take 15 of 29 MNS wards, get to 90. Congress will support from outside if push comes to shove"

The Congress on the other hand has been wary of its long term alliance partner NCP for some time, and in fact had been refusing to ally with it in the civic polls in the state or enter into alliance with them in Goa. They however treat Uddhav Thackeray’s outburst as just theatrics as part of their campaign strategy to shrug off decades built up of anti incumbency from controlling the BMC. Sanjay Nirupam, ex Shiv Sena, now a Congress leader from Mumbai sceptically remarked "If Shiv Sena has guts, then they should withdraw support from State & Centre, otherwise it’s just empty rhetoric". 

Meanwhile Sharad Pawar did not rule not support to the BJP both in the state and centre if Shiv Sena pulls out support: I am pained to hear that two parties who worked together for many years have decided to fight elections separately”

Then there are rumours of the Shiv Sena and MNS coming together in an alliance or even a post election merger. 

Whether these developments is to be interpreted as signals to a genuine realignment of state and central politics or just empty posturing only the future can tell. Till then, watch this space.....

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