[dropcap]I[/dropcap] am not surprised but wonder what must be the strength of Gujarat’s Hardik Patel, the leader of the Patel reservation movement and a major critic of the Narendra Modi government can lend any support to Shiv Sena in Mumbai? Uddhav Thackrey announced to media that Hardik may extend his support to Shiv Sena for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls. Sena, which recently called off its alliance with the BJP and is contesting civic polls on its own, might rope in Patel to garner Gujarati votes, but that vote share is not as crucial as most of the Gujarati voters are loyal to Modi and BJP. Perhaps, this card may work for Gujarat but definitely not in Mumbai. For the first time in last twenty years, Sena and the BJP are contesting BMC polls individually and the Gujarati votes are a key factor in at least 40 of the 227 seats in areas such as Ghatkopar, Mulund, Borivali and Kalbadevi, among others. Gujaratis are the third largest community in Mumbai after Maharashtrians and north Indians.
For the first time, Mumbai BJP adopted an innovative way to start its election campaign by seeking blessings of the Maratha King Shivaji Maharaj and giving a pledge to all its candidates at the fort on the outskirts of PMC. It also ensured that the party sends out a message of a united front by getting all its senior leaders, including guardian minister Girish Bapat, MP Anil Shirole and Sanjay Kakade, all legislators from the city during the launch of the election campaign. BJP also promised neat and clean roads in Mumbai. Potholed roads during monsoon season are a major issue faced by the city. The party banged on with tempting promises to Mumbaikars. There are thousands of posters across the city reminding each promise made by the chief minister. The campaign is at ground level and larger than life. Every effort is made to sustain with large majority and beat Sena’s dominance.
The BJP is just walking their way ignoring every criticism by Shiv Sena. BJP would seek votes on performance of state and the Centre based on transparent and good governance. Actually speaking at the moment, the party has nothing much to score on the basis of merits, let it be state or centre but still there is huge hype and propaganda which can fetch good votes for it. Looking at the present scenario, BJP will not require help of any party for coming to power. The party is contesting all seats for the first time, except some allotted to alliance partner RPI (A), in the civic body. Their main rival in civic body poll is Congress and the NCP. On the allegations that BJP demanded Rs. two lakh each from all candidates, the state BJP chief said that it was a move to ensure that the candidates do not cross their expenditure limit of Rs. 10 lakh and the funds taken would be used by party for the overall election campaign.
On the other hand, the NCP started its campaign by holding an election rally in central parts of city by exposing the BJP-led central government for its demonetization policy that whirled a nightmare for citizens. BJP is aiming high to grab power in the Pune on the basis of its performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly elections in which it won all the seats from the city. At the launch of NCP’s election campaign, its leader Ajit Pawar slammed BJP over its performance at the state and the central-level. NCP wants public to elect its candidate on the basis of development work done by party in the last 10 years.
The NCP has joined hands with the Congress to keep the communal parties away from power. The BJP and Shiv Sena are known for creating tension among different communities. Therefore, the voters should think before they cast their vote. This time BJP has inducted political leaders with criminal background and is promoting wrong practices in the elections. Congress is struggling to retain their own leaders, as many of their MLAs are joining BJP. Congress general secretary Gurudas Kamat, who had openly revolted against the party’s Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam, had reconsidered the decision and was willing to campaign for the civic elections in the city.
Over a thousand party workers including candidates from Mumbai North West, North East and South Central (constituencies) appealed to him to campaign for them. In view of the appeal, he has decided to withdraw the earlier decision not to campaign. Former Congress Mumbai unit chiefs Janardhan Chandurkar, Kripashankar Singh and senior leader Narayan Rane will also campaign for other municipal corporations and zilla parishads in Maharashtra but not in Mumbai. Right now, Mumbai Congress is divided between Kamat and Nirupam groups. Though, we can’t ignore the fact that Congress possesses good majority and vote share in BMC elections. Let’s see who rules Mumbai next.
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