With the Mumbai civic polls round the corner and uncertainty over the saffron alliance, the Shiv Sena on Thursday inducted several Gujarati leaders from the city to create a support base within the community, traditionally considered as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vote bank.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday inducted prominent faces from the Gujarati community such as Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supporters Hemraj Shah, a leader from the Bruhad Mumbai Gujarati Samaj from South Mumbai, and Jayanti Modi from Malad.
Rajesh Doshi, the deputy head of BJP’s Gujarati wing from Kandivli, also joined the Sena. Other Gujarati leaders who entered the Shiv Sena include Kumar Jain from Zaveri Bazaar, Kamlesh Chitroda from Dharavi, Jignesh Bhuta from Borivli west, Dhaval Shah from Matunga and producer Tejas Gohil.
Thackeray said, “On several occasions, some people have tried to create and spread misunderstandings about the Shiv Sena. Balasaheb always used to feel that the Gujarati community should walk along with Shiv Sena. The Gujarati community has been consistently misused with a ‘use and throw’ attitude.”
In a barb at the Narendra Modi-led government’s demonetisation move, Thackeray added, “These days standing in queues has become a national agenda. But in Shiv Sena, I will not make you wait in long queues.”
The Sena and BJP have traditionally contested the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in an alliance, with the Sena drawing support from the city’s predominantly Maharashtrian quarters and the BJP cashing in on votes from Gujarati traders and businessmen across Mumbai. However, with relations between the allies having soured and the BJP’s local leadership restless to flex its muscles in Mumbai, there is a strong likelihood that the two parties may contest independently. Both parties are preparing for the polls by poaching leaders, who can fill the gaps within. Sena is also keen on taking advantage of the unrest felt by the trading community over the recent demonetisation decision.
The BJP had recently dealt the Sena a blow by inducting Suresh Gambhir, former Sena legislator from its home turf of Dadar, and serving Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking committee member Sunil Ganacharya. Similarly, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s corporators Prakash Darekar and Sukhada Pawar, and Congress’ former legislator Ramesh Thakur, serving corporators Sagar Thakur and Kesarben Murji Patek also joined the BJP recently.