Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray was grinning from ear to ear on Sunday as he gave a red-carpet welcome to the husband-wife duo of Sanjay and Sanjana Ghadi, who had held the key posts of vice-president and general secretary in the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Few in the Sena remember Ghadi, a close aide of Uddhav’s political rival and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, getting warm greetings from Uddhav during his previous stint in the Sena.
This change in approach is the direct result of trends that emerged from the Lok Sabha results: the MNS led in 5 of 36 Assembly segments and was a close second in 8 others, while the Sena led in just 2 and came in a close second in 14 others.
“In the parliamentary elections, the Sena underestimated the strength of the MNS, while the latter made emotional appeals to the youth. This time around, the Sena is better prepared and is trying to make a comeback. But the MNS is sure to make waves,” said Aroon Tikekar, veteran journalist and political commentator.
But not just the Sena, strategists in all major parties have been working on permutations and combinations to find out how many seats they can win in Mumbai. The city has become crucial in the numbers game as, post-delimitation, it has 36 seats.
Congress leaders are determined to win as many of these as they can. The Assembly segment-wise trend in the LS elections showed that the Congress was leading in 23 places. If it manages to win these seats now, it will be better placed to emerge as the single largest party and get back to power. A party needs 145 seats to get a majority in the 288-member Assembly.
Any of the two alliances — Congress-NCP or Shiv Sena-BJP — that wins a good number of seats in Mumbai can be assured of almost one-fourth of the seats required to form the government.
But Tikekar feels equations will change.“ A state election is not directly comparable to parliamentary elections. People vote more locally, with a different mindset. So every party needs to be equally prepared,” he noted.