It was a small victory but it brought the smile back on the faces of Shiv Sena leaders.
In a byelection to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Sena snatched the seat in Goregaon from Congress. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) that has been grabbing Sena's political space finished fourth.
A Congress-NCP split helped the Sena candidate to snatch away a seat that had been with the Congress for 20 years now. The by-election was necessitated by death of sitting Congress corporator R R Pillai six months ago.
Sena's Raju Padhye bagged 6,379 votes beating the nearest rival, Pillai's daughter Srikala Pillai, who stood on a Congress ticket, bagging 4347 votes. The MNS's Tushar Satam, meanwhile, stood fourth bagging mere 1614 votes, one-sixth of what the Sena candidate bagged. In addition, an NCP rebel candidate Praful Dedhia stood third, bagging a considerable 4,036 votes.
Speaking about the result, senior Congress corporator, ironically from the adjoining ward, Sameer Desai blamed the loss on division of votes.
"There was a division of like-minded votes. The NCP-backed Independent candidate getting 4,000-odd votes hit us hard."
Sena MP Sanjay Raut said: "We are happy that we wrested the seat from the Congress. It was victory of our grass root workers." The result also showed where certain parties stand, he added referring to the MNS.
An MNS leader, on condition of anonymity admitted that a win was far-fetched. "We don't have the kind of presence required in Goregaon. Also, winning the seat wasn't really a priority issue for us at this point."
This election now makes the Sena-BJP tally at 118, while Cong-NCP, SP, MNS combined come to 109 now.