The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sounded the bugle for the elections to the country’s richest civic body on Wednesday, but in a change of track avoided confrontation with its warring ally, the Shiv Sena.
The occasion was the re-election of Mumbai Chief Ashish Shelar, seen as a Shiv Sena baiter, for a second term from 2016 to 2018. BJP workers shouted slogans of winning 114 seats in the BMC (of 227 seats, 114 are needed to win power).
While Shelar will lead the city unit into the BMC polls in 2017, it was clear at the function held at Shanmukhananda Hall in Matunga that the reigns of the poll strategy and alliance were in the hands of the Chief Minister.
“Let there be no doubt that we will have a resounding victory in the upcoming BMC polls. It’s definite... You will read news everyday about an alliance happening or not happening. Ignore it, your job is to focus on your booth,” said Fadnavis in his address to the party cadre.
In his speech, Fadnavis did not touch upon its troubles with ally Shiv Sena or name-calling even once, indicating a tactical approach ahead of the polls even as the party prepares to go solo.
Shelar through a story from the Mahabharata suggested that strategy in the coming electoral battle would be best left in the hands of the Chief Minister alias ‘Krishna’ to overcome a monster that seemed to get bigger with every strike.
“ This battle cannot be fought using weapons... This time we are the ruling party and we will have to go to people with our list of achievements..everything else you leave to Krishnaneti,” said Shelar.
The speech refelcted that the focus of the BJP’s BMC campaign will be on development.
Fadnavis spoke of the party’s blueprint for Mumbai, envisioning elevated rail and multi-modal corridors, metro networks, end-to end-transport solution and affordable Rs 15 lakh homes.
The CM spelt out the party’s target voters, not the affluent and the rich but those who “run small shops, do small jobs, live in slums, travel only in locals.”