Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray found himself in a piquant position on Sunday, forced to slam strongarm tactics (his party’s USP ) as he took on ally, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and nemesis, Raj Thackeray over an “extortionist deal” that will allow smooth release of the Karan Johar movie, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, in the coming weekend
But, even he couldn’t feign surprise knowing the state’s 40-year-old political narrative that began with the Congress’ mollycoddling of the Sena and his father Bal Thackeray’s strongarm tactics for political gains.
In a jibe at his friend, Fadnavis, Thackeray said all of them should now make a movie, Yeh Toh Hona Hi Tha (this was bound to happen).
After all, Fadnavis was repeating history.
“This tradition of abdicating state responsibility to accommodate fringe groups and pressure tactics of political parties is 40 years old in Maharashtra. Fadnavis continued with it and set a new low. It is clearly for political gains in the BMC polls. But at the end of the day, petty politics won the day,” said political analyst Prakash Bal.
The petty politics is over the control of the country’s richest civic body that has been under the Sena for 25 years.
And, with relations between the sparring allies likely to get worse ahead of these polls, having an option like Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) if it manages to get its A game on, is a valid proposition for the BJP. Political insiders admit that if the MNS had done better in the 2014 polls, the Sena would be sitting in the Opposition benches.
The BJP’s backroom analysts, who have been poring over the 2011 census as well as ward level assessment in Mumbai to prepare its electoral strategy for the civic polls, admit that their big problem is the core Marathi manoos vote bank of the Sena.
Further, the delimitation exercise has given the Sena a clear advantage as the number of seats in its strongholds has increased.
The BJP is focussing on Mumbai’s cosmopolitan make-up through a massive reach out to all communities, but it remains shaky on the core Marathi manoos vote bank of the Sena.
“We are focussing on other communities and are confident of our success rate with North Indians, Gujarathis, Marwaris including middle class Maharashtrians but the core Marathi manoos vote bank of the Sena is not likely to ditch the party due to the strong grassroots network. The MNS, however, offers direct competition to the Sena on this front. The MNS’ decline in the city is not good for us,” admitted a BJP party functionary.
A look at the 2012 civic poll results shows why the BJP should be worrried on this front.
The Sena won 75 seats despite a bashing from the MNS in its traditional strongholds such as Dadar, Parel, Bhandup, Vikroli, and Ghatkopar. The MNS picked up 28 seats in the last BMC polls. In the Sena bastion of Dadar, Parel, and Mahim, the MNS picked up 7 wards including Shivaji Park that houses Shiv Sena Bhavan.
In the upcoming elections, such a tally seems elusive unless the party can really revive itself in the coming four months.
By propping up the MNS, Fadnavis has given a possible ally, a chance of revival and his own party a chance of doubling its tally if not winning the civic body.