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Sena-Sena bhau bhau?

Shiv Sena may join hands with MNS for contesting BMC election.

Raj Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray, BMC Polls, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation

After Shiv Sena snapped ties with BJP for the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election speculations are rife in political circles whether Sena will have an alliance with MNS. Earlier MNS supremo Raj Thackeray had stated that his party is ready to have a tie up with either Sena or BJP. Therefore, political observers are keenly watching whether estranged cousins Uddhav and Raj will come together ahead of BMC polls. Even during 2014 assembly polls, there were rumours about Sena and MNS going for an alliance. However, Raj had then refused to reply to an offer from Uddhav. This time the scenario is far different as MNS has already weakened in Maharashtra and it no longer is able to lure youth voters. Therefore, Raj Thackeray is keen to revive the party in the state by aligning with Sena which is currently ruling the BMC.

“If MNS and Shiv Sena go for a pre-poll alliance ahead of BMC election then it will benefit both parties and the latter can give a tough fight to BJP. Sena can keep a check on BJP’s growth in the city if it joins hands with MNS. On the other hand, if these parties contest election separately then it will lead to division of Marathi votes,” said a political analyst.

According to sources, “The talks between both the parties are in initial stages. Both the parties might have an alliance in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nashik. The seat sharing can be worked out on the formula of 177:50. MNS has been demanding 50 seats from Sena. Both parties remain tightlipped about the alliance and no formal announcement has been made by them. The final decision is expected in a day or two.”

This development comes a day after the Shiv Sena raised objection for using their supremo Bal Thackeray’s photo by an MNS corporator on his campaign. The corporator from Dadar used images of the late Bal Thackeray in order to woo the area’s traditional Marathi vote bank.

Raj Thackeray had quit Shiv Sena in 2006 to form his own party named MNS. The party had played spoilsport in the 2009 assembly election by winning 13 seats and polling 11.88 per cent of the votes. MNS also split the votes of BJP-Sena alliance in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. However, the party could only manage to win one seat in the 2014 assembly polls due to weak organisational structure.”

On the other hand, Shiv Sena is facing tough challenge from BJP which has been making inroads into Maharashtra. BJP had emerged as the single largest party after calling off the alliance with Sena prior to 2014 assembly polls. After Bal Thackeray’s demise Uddhav Thackeray has failed to give proper direction to Shiv Sena. Sena has remained a Mumbai centric party and has been struggling to establish its foothold in rural Maharashtra. The BMC polls will be held on February 21 and the results will be announced on February 23.

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