MCGM poll outcome: With BJP's impressive performance, is an alliance on the cards for Shiv Sena?
The battle for the richest civic body in the country is over. And the verdict is – a hung House for Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The future of the political game in Maharashtra depends on the outcome of the deliberations and horse-trading that will now take place.
So much so that the fate of the state government was hanging in balance as Shiv Sena's Executive President Uddhav Thackeray had said that the state was on a 'notice period', which was later 'elevated' to the status of being on 'ventilator'. It seems that the outcome of the MCGM polls has sailed the state government through the turbulence.
The outcome is a classic example of how ‘slow but steady wins the race’.
Out of 227 seats in MCGM –
Shiv Sena won 84 seats
BJP won 82 seats
Congress bagged 31
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) got 9
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) bagged 7
Independent and others won 14
If the claims by the president of the Mumbai-city unit of BJP and MLA Ashish Shelar, are to be believed, four independent corporators have extended support to the BJP. This takes the tally to 85, which is one seat more than Shiv Sena.
The tall claims made by the Shiv Sena leadership have fallen flat. The party always claimed emotional connect with Mumbai. All along the campaign for MCGM, right after Uddhav Thackeray announced the breakup with BJP on 16 January, he evoked the sacrifice made by the Shiv Sainiks for Mumbai and Marathi Manus here.
He presented a long list of what Shiv Sainiks did for Mumbaikars during the natural and manmade calamities such as the 2005 floods, 2008 terror attacks and others. He also made an emotional appeal to Mumbaikars to vote out the BJP claiming that the Shiv Sena rotted in the alliance for two and half decades.
He also announced that the Shiv Sena would not form an alliance with any political party in the future. To mark his word, Uddhav Thackeray even turned down the alliance proposal extended by his estranged cousin – Raj.
All this done in an attempt to show the party cadre and the voters that the Shiv Sena had the capacity to win MCGM elections on its own. Uddhav also claimed that the state government, which was on notice period, could topple anytime, he wished.
Taking a cue from this, the Shiv Sena ministers announced that they carried resignation letters in their pockets and would walk out of government any moment if ordered by their leader.
Despite frantic efforts and emotional appeals to voters and the Marathi Manus, along with bringing in Patidar Community leader Hardik Patel and inducting several financially and socially influential leaders from the Gujarati community in Mumbai into the party, Uddhav Thackeray seems to have failed to win a majority.
Now, if the Shiv Sena wants to rule MCGM, it will have to form an alliance with a political party.
“This will be the biggest humiliation for Uddhav who did not think twice before making tall claims,” said veteran journalist and political analyst Ganesh Torsekar.
Senior journalist and political analyst Abhay Deshpande said, “Going by the number of seats won by the Shiv Sena and BJP, there are high possibilities that they will form a post-poll alliance, which is the most natural option for both the parties.”
While the Shiv Sena gained in its strongholds such as Girgaum and other parts of South Mumbai, BJP swept the suburbs, especially the Western Suburbs that have a Gujarati dominance. Though there is growth in the number of seats bagged by the Shiv Sena, by just nine so far, it is not substantial to come in power.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has improved its tally by 50 seats as compared to the last House. While the BJP has failed to outnumber the Shiv Sena, it has clearly emerged victorious in the remaining state. It has emerged to be the number one party in the state. But as of right now, neither of the parties is in a position to come in power at the MCGM.
The Shiv Sena failed to reach the magic figure of 114 in MCGM. But since the BJP has registered a big victory in the state, except in Mumbai and Thane, the Shiv Sena is unlikely to walk out of the government, as it was being speculated.
Though BJP could not reach the magic figure either, as claimed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, it has gained substantially in Mumbai. BJP MLA and spokesperson Ram Kadam said, “We see the outcome as a quantum leap. We have registered 130% growth whereas Shiv Sena could manage much less. I think this is a major victory for BJP in Mumbai. Reaching 81 from 31 is no less than mammoth victory.”
“BJP has gained because Congress voters have shifted to it. Shiv Sena has failed to live up to its potential. The mindless tall claims made by the Shiv Sena leaders proved fatal for the firebrand party. It lost despite being capable of winning 114 seats on its own. Shiv Sena suffered the massive loss due to its dispute with the MNS. This actually turned out to be a big advantage for BJP. The biggest mistake Uddhav did was to create too many enemies, which is not at all a sign of a seasoned politician,” Torsekar said.
Ridiculing Shiv Sena's claims that state government was on 'notice period', Torsekar said, “Shiv Sena cannot afford to walk out of the government at this juncture. If it does, it would be a Himalayan blunder. However, the MCGM outcome will definitely change the course of politics in future. From now on, it would be direct competition between the Shiv Sena and BJP. Congress and NCP have become obsolete. With severe infighting, Congress has dug its own grave in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and the NCP, being a one man party, can’t look beyond Sharad Pawar. He too cannot put in the hard work that is needed to grow the party, due to old age and health issues.”
“We were denied even 60 seats in an alliance. We were humiliated to the limit. Now, our performance is a fitting reply to all the tall claims made by the Shiv Sena leaders. We never contested for more than 60 seats over the last 25 years. This time there were 227 candidates and we won 81 seats. We have proved our mettle,” said chief spokesperson of Maharashtra BJP Madhav Bhandari.
"This is definitely a huge victory for us. It is the mandate by people of Mumbai. As far as the future course of action is concerned, the party leadership will take a decision on the steps to gather enough numbers to claim a majority in the House," said Manisha Kayande, spokesperson of Shiv Sena.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen