New Delhi: With the Election Commission of India awarding the "Bow and Arrow" symbol to the Eknath Shinde faction and terming it the real Shiv Sena, the road for conducting Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls has been cleared.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and “new” Shiv Sena, headed by Eknath Shinde, are now likely to seek an election date to the civic body ahead of the monsoon season’s onset in Mumbai. Though an order from the top court is still awaited, the saffron alliance is hopeful that the court's directive will go its way. The two allies are keen to dislodge the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena from the BMC which has been holding on to the BMC for the past 25 years.
BMC polls significance
Sources in the saffron alliance stated that the loss of BMC would sound the death knell for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena as it will be devoid of the much-needed influence and money that comes with the control of the civic body.
Controlling the BMC, which administers India’s economic capital, is considered very important in Maharashtra politics. Apart from being the richest civic body in the country, ruling it also comes with a lot of political might and prestige.
The BJP-SS alliance also feels that April-May would be the best time to seek polls to the civic body as the period falls ahead of the monsoons. The rainy season is considered the worst time for the BMC in terms of civic management and polls before it aims to avoid public anger on these issues. The two saffron allies want to ride to success in the civic body polls based on the development plank being pushed by the Maharashtra government, headed by Eknath Shinde.
After the EC’s decision, the message that Uddhav has lost the legacy of his father Bal Thackeray is also being spread across the state by the two allies. And the message is being reinforced as the Shinde faction takes over official Shiv Sena symbols and offices in Maharashtra and the national capital.
BJP Raj Thackeray Alliance
The BJP is also understood to be in talks with Raj Thackeray over some tacit alliance to secure a win in the BMC polls. It is learnt that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena candidates may be fielded tacitly from where the Uddhav faction is powerful in an effort to eat into the traditional votes that owe allegiance to the Thackeray family. The top leadership of the BJP has asked the state leaders to properly strategize for the forthcoming polls and ensure victory for the saffron alliance, sources said.
The move comes as the ruling allies want to finish the last bastion of Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena in Maharashtra. In the last elections in 2017, out of total 227 seats, Shiv Sena had secured 84 seats in the BMC, while the BJP was able to win 82 wards.
The BMC polls would also ensure that Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party are unable to secure power in the civic body riding on the back of Uddhav’s Sena faction.
A win in BMC polls for BJP and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena is also expected to ensure that the saffron alliance emerges stronger and powerful with Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assembly polls scheduled for 2024, sources said. This would also positively impact the cadre of the two parties which feel that they are the legitimate saffron workers in the state and that Uddhav had betrayed them by allying with NCP and Congress.
Maharashtra, one of the biggest states in the country, elects 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha and is high on priority for the BJP ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to seek a third term, the BJP is aiming to improve its tally of 23 seats won in 2019. The party aims to wrest seats from its former ally Uddhav’s Shiv Sena, which had secured 18 seats riding on the back of a strong Modi wave in 2019 general election.