As the warring cousins — Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray — announced their first list of candidates for the October 13 Assembly elections, it’s clear that in Mumbai, it will be Sena vs Sena.
Bala Nandgaonkar, once a hardcore Sainik and now an MNS leader, will take on Dagdu Sakpal, known as Sena’s muscleman in the Maharashtrian-dominated Sewri constituency.
Sena man Ashish Chemburkar, who flexes his muscle in Worli, will clash with Sanjay Jamadar, a former Sena student leader with the MNS.
Ashok Nar, a Sainik from Borivli, will face Pravin Darekar, a key MNS leader in north Mumbai’s Magathane constituency.
The Sena will contest 23 seats in Mumbai, the MNS 26. In most of these constituencies, Uddhav’s men will face a tough fight from Raj’s followers.
Political pundits predict a repeat of what happened in the Lok Sabha elections five months ago. “The MNS will make a dent on the Sena votebank. Its aim is to damage the Sena the way it did in Lok Sabha polls. How much damage it will do remains to be seen,” said Mumbai-based political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar.
“The Congress-NCP alliance will have an edge if the MNS walks away with sizeable number of votes,” Kumar believes.
In the Lok Sabha polls, the MNS got one lakh votes in each of the six Mumbai constituencies. The result — the saffron combine did not win a single seat. MNS’ performance indicates it could win five Assembly seats.
The Sena released a list of 126 candidates, while the MNS declared 100 candidates.
The Congress has also cleared the names of 149 candidates, including that of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, for the polls but has kept the announcement pending for a day.
The party was busy on Monday trying to resolve the issue of 25 contentious seats, including a dozen where the claimants are fresh relatives of prominent leaders including the son of President Pratibha Patil.
Though there is no official announcement so far, the Congress is expected to contest 174 of the 288 assembly seats in the state, with its ally, the NCP contesting the remaining 114.