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BMC election would be the tough task for Shiv Sena

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On a very tragic note Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackrey had to step down as CM and since then nothing seems to be going well with Shiv Sena, even the party symbol is at stake. Eknath Shinde has made many changes in BMC because forthcoming elections are very crucial for him. Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray slammed the civic administration over ad hoc transfers and reversal of orders in the BMC. Aaditya said that never in the past had the city witnessed random transfers, especially while in the middle of the monsoon and approaching festivals. Aaditya said that due to the series of transfers, Mumbai’s governance was being treated in a poor way. Over the last one month, soon after the CM Eknath Shinde faction and BJP government came to power, close to a dozen officials had been shunted out and given new postings, but in some cases their orders were changed or reversed within days. Senior civic officials said such ad hoc transfers especially during the monsoon are hampering civic works in the city.

The BMC is the Sena’s heart. Shiv Sena is not like other parties; it is first a sanghatana (organisation) and then a paksh (party). The Sena’s real assets are its grassroots networks built around the shakhas and shakha pramukhs. MLAs come and go but shakhas remain Shiv Sena has already identified the second rung functionaries and leaders who were sidelined previously since the MLAs were controlling appointment of office bearers in their home districts. Now that the MAs have rebelled, many secondrung leaders have approached the party to work. These appointments will be made soon so that there is no vacuum ahead of the BMC polls

Meanwhile, trends in the political corridor suggest the anti-incumbency factor may tilt in favour of BJP in the BMC polls. Satta Bazar, the illegal betting market for elections in India, suggests that the change in power factor may tilt in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and hurt the Shiv Sena (SS) in the Mumbai municipality (BMC) polls. The BMC elections are important for political parties since it has a budget of around ₹50,000 crore and cash reserves of over ₹80,000 crore.

BMC elections will see four main political parties in Mumbai, including the BJP, Shiv Sena (SS), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, NCP and Congress fighting over 237 seats, ten more than 2017 polls. The BJP is expected to achieve a comfortable victory over at least 120 seats, and the tally is expected to go to 130 seats as per the trends.

With the MVA government falling and Eknath Shinde taking over in alliance with the BJP, former CM Uddhav Thackeray faces an uphill task for the BMC polls. Unless Thackeray decides to mend fences with Shinde and the rebels, it will be a much-diminished party under his leadership that will clash with BJP to retain its biggest bastion-Mumbai-which it has held for three decades. Civic polls in the city are slated for September/October 2022.

Shinde’s role will be crucial in the BMC polls, especially if his faction decides to tie up with the BJP. While it will be hard for Uddhav Thackeray to accept the rebels back, it may be one of the options if the Uddhav camp wants to retain the BMC. The perception is that unless Thackeray accepts Shinde back into the fold, he will find it hard to withstand a rejuvenated BJP.

 In the 2017 polls, Sena won 84 seats, while BJP had 82. Later six from MNS and some independents joined Sena. Total number of electoral wards in the BMC is now up from 227 to 236 following redrawing of ward boundaries. The other option for Uddhav is to form an alliance with Congress and NCP to take on the combined might of the BJP and the Shinde camp. After losing 2/3rds of MLAs including all elected cabinet ministers to Shinde’s camp, the contest will be seen as a make-or-break for Uddhav’s Sena.

Even though Eknath Shinde is a Thane-based leader with little presence in Mumbai, since Uddhav has lost power, the momentum will be with the BJP. Shinde’s group won’t have much say in the BMC so it will be a clear Uddhav versus BJP fight. Many Sena corporators will also rebel and fight on tickets from the Shinde camp, some may even join the BJP. Sena MLAs like Sada Sarvankar (Mahim), Prakash Surve (Magathane), Yamini Jadhav (Byculla) and Mangesh Kudalkar (Kurla) have already joined the Shinde camp and could dent Thackeray’s prospects unless he agrees to accept them back.

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