Previous Elections of BMC fought four corners, BJP-SS-NCP-INC all fought against each other. Despite tough competition, Shiv Sena got 84 seats and BJP got 82. This time BMC Elections would be most critical because Shiv Sena might suffer an enormous loss and BJP will be the biggest gainer. Shiv Sena has yielded most of its hardcore Hindu voters to BJP, and the result reflects it.
BJP may have its mutual understanding with MNS. If Shiv Sena goes with the NCP & Congress alliance, it will help BJP and if Shiv Sena goes alone then in 3–4 corner contests, it will benefit BJP. So, in both scenarios, BJP will have an advantage. Non-Marathi Hindu voters may get polarized in favour of the BJP. The frequent ED and income tax raids on Shiv Sena leaders are another disadvantage to the ruling party. BJP, with the help of central agencies, successfully damaged the ruling party’s image.
In 2017, BJP won 82 seats resulting from Modi waves and the extra push they had due to power in Maharashtra Assembly, something which they don’t have right now. The local leadership has become irrelevant; Vinod Tawde and Ashish Shelar, like leaders who have knowledge about Mumbai, are side-lined. But still, Devendra has gracefully countered the ruling government, pushing them neck-deep into some other legal inquiries.
Shiv Sena gave good governance, no matter what the development works never stopped in the state. Mumbai’s every corner has seen beautification, but they lacked showcasing their work. At this moment, Shiv Sena should go aggressive in their campaign by telling people about their development plans and whatever they delivered so far. It’s high time they talk about all that they have done for the state.
Shiv Sena should recuperate its Shakha network. Mumbaikar’s biggest support system was Shiv-Sainiks’ presence around every corner. These Shakhas were the backbone of Shiv Sena. Party should give utmost priority to Shakhas and reinstall them. If Shakhas become powerful, most of the BJP’s attacks are nullified on the ground level. At least people will not switch their loyalties. Shiv Sena has grown more popular in Mumbai than before; they now also have a decent vote share in Gujarati and the Muslim populations.
It is a very dicey proposition for Shiv Sena to hand over the reins of BMC to the BJP since for them it is a milking cow to oil the wheels of its organisation. The current Shiv Sena is a shadow of its past. The dilution of its core behaviour has changed lots of equations for them. In the recent past, Uddhav looked more tired of answering the attacks of the opposition. Most of his leaders are under ED’s scanner. Central agencies hassled his family members. Aditya Thackeray is yet to mature in politics to stand strong against BJP’s brutal attacks.
Historically, the Sena was good at resolving local issues. It was Shiv Sena pramukh Balasaheb Thackeray who alone handled the rise and success of the party. Post his demise, Shiv Sena has not lost its political relevance but seems to have lost the political edge the Sena supremo used to provide. Ideologically, Shiv Sena started on a pro-Marathi plank and soon moved to a wider Hindutva based politics that generated substantial support beyond its traditional Marathi base. They could establish themselves beyond a specific linguistic group with a reasonable amount of success.
With the growth of BJP pan India and also significantly in Maharashtra, they have put Shiv Sena on the back foot. It forced them to play a secondary role post assembly election. Most Mumbaikar are not happy with Shiv Sena’s performance in BMC over the past decades. Shiv Sena kept power because there was no better option available and also BJP was their ally. Now the ally has changed and people have primarily two options. There are chances that the vote share may shift to BJP. Things are changing now with the convincing performance of the BJP. Gujarati, who did support Shiv Sena, also seem to have switched sides with the rise of the BJP.
In 2022, it’s almost sure that BMC may slip out of Shiv Sena and BJP will take on. There is no dearth of issues plaguing the city of Mumbai. BMC has been a cash cow for Shiv Sena for decades as it is the richest Municipal Corporation in India with an annual budget that is probably higher than some state budgets. In the previous BMC election, BJP came within touching distance of Shiv Sena with a difference of a mere two seats. After the present situation, the BMC election becomes very important for all parties. BJP will hope to take charge of governance in BMC if Shiv Sena won’t pull their socks.