Defeated by its breakaway faction, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the Shiv Sena is returning to its original ‘sons of the soil’ plank for the Assembly polls of September-October.
On Monday, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray wooed the Marathi vote at a rally at Bandra — after a march up to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) office there — demanding affordable housing for Maharashtrian locals.
“Marathis have first right over the low-cost houses being built by MHADA and the Shiv Sena will fight for them till the logical end,” Thackeray said.
In the Lok Sabha polls, the Sena lost six seats in Mumbai-Thane-Nashik, mostly due to an erosion of its traditional Maharashtrian vote bank, consumed by Raj Thackeray’s MNS, which employed an aggressive — and violent — sons-of-the-soil agenda.
For the impending Assembly elections, the Sena is bending over backwards to please that Marathi vote.
Thackeray packaged his ‘locals first’ demand with the promise of aggression if that demand wasn’t met.
“Right now, we are demanding with folded hands. If they think this is our weakness, they must know that these hands also know how to slap them. We will not allow ministers to travel in the city if our demand is ignored,” he said.
“I am warning builders who deny affordable houses to the sons of the soil. If anyone denies them their right, we will go and ask him for an explanation in the Sena style. When we come to power, we will teach builders a lesson,” he said.
The Congress described the Sena rally as an election stunt and asked the Sena to first examine its own record during its 1995-99 rule.
MHADA (Mumbai Board) chairman and Congress leader Amarjeet Singh Manhas said while the authority had allotted 13,500 houses during the Sena-BJP rule (1995-99), the number allotted during the Democratic Front’s rule (1999-2009) was 61,400.
In a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Thackeray wrote: “Building low-cost townships is a conspiracy to throw original inhabitants out of the city, then build high-rise buildings for the rich.”