Did the Shiv Sena’s appeal to the Marathi manoos to vote on linguistic and community lines work in its stronghold Mumbai ?
It would seem the party’s core constituency responded to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s call as the Marathi heartland in Parel, Lalbaug, Dadar in the city and Bhandup, Vikhroli, Magathane came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
However, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena factor and the fact that the Sena’s appeal didn’t cut ice with the educated, upper middle class Marathi voters may undercut the party’s performance. The Sena seemed resurgent in the island city with the presence of foot soldiers, clad in saffron headbands working at the help desks outside polling booths and across slums, mobilising people to vote.
In Mahim and Shivadi, the Sena looks set to reclaim its seat from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which did not have a buzz here like it did in the 2009 polls. The voters seem to be quite disappointed with the MNS, which is representing these areas. “We gave Bala Nandgoankar, an outsider, a chance last time, but he disappointed us. He was absent most of the time and we suffered,” said Parag Chavan, Shivadi resident.
The presence of the MNS is likely to hit the Sena in the suburbs by splitting their votes. In Bhandup (West) and Kanjurmarg (East), the poll battle seemed to be largely between the two Senas. “The Modi government has taken some good initiatives like increasing FDI. Employment generation from this will also reduce other problems of poverty and crimes. But in this poll, factors such as the capacity to resolve local problems are also important. In that respect, the MNS and Sena are better,” said Anagha Jangam, 30, accountant from Kanjurmarg (East).
“What is happening in Belgaum should not happen here tomorrow. Ideally, votes should not be cast based on linguistic and communal lines, but this happens everywhere. We can’t have a situation where Maharashtrians are sidelined in Mumbai,” said Reema Bodhe, finance professional from Bhandup (West). Vile Parle’s middle class Marathi population came out in large numbers to cast their votes, but many of them said their priority was to see a stable government that could perform in the state (read BJP). “The performance of the BJP has been satisfactory in the past four months and I believe in voting for BJP government that will ensure better coordination between the state and the Centre,” Shubhangi Kanekar, a Vile Parle resident.
The Sena’s sharp anti-BJP barbs also did not go down well with some Marathi voters. They felt that like BJP, the Sena should have focussed on ‘misgovernance’ of the Congress-NCP. “I frequent Gujarat a lot and Maharashtra lags behind in the power sector. We need a party like the BJP to revive the sector,” said Mandar Ambre, 35. from Andheri (east).
In Bandra, which has nearly 30% Marathi voters, those belonging to the middle class and upper middle class didn’t show up at the polling booths, but Sena’s candidate Vilas Chavri, got substantial support from Khar Danda’s majority ‘Koli’ community.
This area has nearly 5,000 voters and could upset calculations of BJP’s popular candidate Ashish Shelar here.