Parties, polls and power: Maharashtra’s tale of three Dussehras | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Parties, polls and power: Maharashtra’s tale of three Dussehras

As the nation celebrates dussehra on Tuesday, lakhs of people in Maharastra will be making their way to three politically significant rallies in the state — at Nagpur, Mumbai and Aurangabad.

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2016 11:45 IST
A worker sets up the stage at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park for the Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally.
A worker sets up the stage at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park for the Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally.(Vijayanand Gupta/HT PHOTO)

As the nation celebrates dussehra on Tuesday, lakhs of people in Maharastra will be making their way to three politically significant rallies in the state — at Nagpur, Mumbai and Aurangabad.

At Nagpur, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) home, its chief Mohan Bhagwat is addressing his cadre at the traditional Vijayadashmi rally, a rally that heads of the RSS have in the past used to send political messages. Tuesday’s address is significant not only with the debate on surgical strikes in the news, but also with the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls around the corner. The RSS cadre has, for decades, played a dominant role in Uttar Pradesh , which has the disputed Babri mosque-Ram temple site and where the agitation for a temple gave birth to India’s aggressive Hindu right-wing politics.

This will also be the first rally where the RSS cadre will sport their new uniform.

At Mumbai will be the Shiv Sena’s Shivaji Park rally, where chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to spell out his party’s strategy ahead of the crucial Mumbai civic polls. The Sena is in a bitter tussle with its ally, the BJP, for control over the country’s richest civic body. At present, the Sena derives its strength from its hold over the local government body that rules India’s financial capital. But with the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls victories in its pocket, the BJP is now looking to win the Mumbai civic body. The Sena wants to guard its bastion, with sources saying Thackeray is likely to guide his party workers on the party’s plans.

In north Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar, BJP leader and minister Pankaja Munde is scheduled to address a dussehra rally to reach out to her Wanjari community, a significant portion of the politically important Other Backward Castes in Maharashtra.

The rally at Bhangwangad, a religious place in Ahmednagar, is also being seen as a battle for supremacy, as Munde has been locked in a power-tussle with the religious head there, Mahant Namdeo Shastri, who has opposed any political meeting at Bhangwangad. The rally may also help her address a series of allegations against her in connection with decisions she has taken as state’s women and child development minister.