Having decided against any tie-up with BJP in the upcoming civic polls, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be personally focusing on Mumbai, the party’s home turf ever since its inception decades ago.
According to his schedule, Thackeray will campaign in the city till February 12, addressing as many as 19 rallies, while he is planning to hold one rally each in Pune, Pimpri- Chinchwad, Nashik and Thane from February 13 to 17.
Kickstarting the campaign last evening, he unleashed a stinging attack on BJP and even signalled that his party may not enter into a post-poll tie up with the party if the outcome in Mumbai falls short of its expectations.
Thackeray also said the upcoming electoral battle is no “friendly match”, virtually scotching speculations that they may strike some pact with BJP in case the poll verdict throws up a hung House in the Mumbai civic body.
Amid its frosty relations with BJP, the Sena’s decision to go solo for the civic polls across Maharashtra has thrown up the question if the party’s strategy will pay off or sharpen the divide between the saffron allies which share power in the state and at the Centre.
Though Sena has compelling reasons to maintain unfettered hold over its prime political space in Mumbai and other cities and restrain BJP from expanding its base, some observers feel the course it has opted may prove to be risky.
According to them, it is hazardous to predict the results as forces outside the ruling combine could also take advantage of the divide in the saffron camp.
“What happens if the post-poll situation is such that both parties may need to come together? In the elections, both may have to pay a price. BJP now has high expectations thinking it has got the mandate to rule and the ‘Modi wave’ that swept it to power in 2014 still remains. Shiv Sena, on the other hand, thinks that Mumbai is its own turf, which it cannot concede to others,” said an observer.
“These parties, however, forget there can be a fatigue factor in people’s mind, affecting both,” an analyst said.
A BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said Shiv Sena thinks his party’s win in 2014 was a fluke by simply riding on the ‘Modi wave’.
“Even if it is a fluke, we came to power and that is important. Similarly, the party has done very well in the recent municipal council and nagar panchayat polls as well.
The Sena is trying to hurt our growing influence,” he said.
“Though both parties may have to come together post elections, BJP will press for its transparency agenda and will join hands with Sena only on this condition,” the leader said.