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Campaign ends, wait begins

The high-voltage campaign for the Kalyan-Dombivli civic elections ended on Friday night with Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, releasing a videotaped appeal urging people to vote for the saffron alliance. Naresh Kamath and Kiran Sonawane reports.

mumbai Updated: Oct 30, 2010 01:00 IST

The high-voltage campaign for the Kalyan-Dombivli civic elections ended on Friday night with Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, releasing a videotaped appeal urging people to vote for the saffron alliance.

"There are some imposters and home-breakers, who are resorting to tricks to fool you," Thackeray said, hinting at his nephew and Maharashtra Navnirnman Sena (MNS) chief, Raj Thackeray, without naming him. "Do not fall for them."

The twin towns will vote on October 31.

The highlight of the week-long campaign was the bitter war of words between the Thackeray cousins. Even Thackeray, was not spared in this electoral fight.

The Congress campaign was led by revenue minister, Narayan Rane, but was overshadowed by the fight between the Thackeray. Chief minister, Ashok Chavan, also campaigned but it hardly had an impact.

This campaign saw Raj get back at his uncle and mentor for the first time since he quit the Sena five years ago. While Thackeray called Raj a traitor, the latter said his uncle and cousin were unnecessarily raking up the past.

Uddhav Thackeray, Sena executive president, called Raj "an agent of the Congress". "A vote for MNS is vote for the Congress," said Uddhav. He also displayed pictures of overflowing garbage bins in the constituencies of the seven MNS corporators in the twin cities.

Raj, in turn, blamed the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance for the mess. "The ruling parties have given these places step-motherly treatment and are now campaigning here because they fear they won't last long in Mumbai and Thane where elections are due in a year," said Raj.

The last day of campaigning was colourful with street plays, dances, fancy dress contests, folk songs and road shows. Filmstars campaigned for the various party candidates and added glamour to the exercise.

People living in Kalyan and Dombivli have several problems such as potholed roads, erratic garbage collection, encroachments, water shortage and lack of connectivity.

Political analysts say it is difficult to predict which way the vote will swing. "The MNS has an emotional appeal but it needs to be seen how much of this it can convert into votes," said Prakash Bal, political analyst. "One has to remember that the Sena-BJP has solid grassroots level organisation."