A fractured mandate for the civic polls in Maharashtrian-dominated Kalyan-Dombivli was expected, but the results have thrown some surprises too.
Raj Thackeray’s Maharash-tra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has managed to make inroads in a traditional Shiv Sena-BJP stronghold. With 27 out of 107 seats in its kitty, MNS holds the key to power. No other combination can make their mayor without Raj’s nod. The expected outcome ends here.
The Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has surprised everyone by emerging the single largest party, in fact winning two seats more than what it had in the 2005 civic polls. However, the Sena has not got close to 54 – the magic figure needed to be in power – as its partner, the BJP, has failed. The BJP’s tally has come down to 9 from 16 in 2005.
The Sena has had an advantage due to its strong network of party workers and the goodwill it enjoys among the traditional voters. The party has also fielded many fresh candidates to beat anti-incumbency and the move has helped.
Another surprise has been the fact that MNS has not eaten into the Sena vote bank as much as it has in the Congress, BJP and NCP share. The NCP and Congress have lost 15 seats while the BJP has lost 9. The result has come as a shocker for the BJP, which has lost its young Bramhin votes to the MNS.
The high numbers would also help Raj change the perception among Maharshtrian voters that voting for MNS candidates means helping the Congress. “The MNS has got a positive vote. I will say the party has created its own vote base instead of eating into other’s share,” said political analyst Uday Nirgudkar.
So, has Raj won the bitter fight against cousin Uddhav? The results show that both Thackerays have done well. In fact, between them, the two Senas have won 58 seats, which is more than the majority in the Kalyan civic house.
Is it an indication that people want the two cousins to join forces? Uddhav does not think so. “People have given us more seats. We will emerge stronger,” says the Sena executive president.
The MNS is being cautious, as it has a chance to wipe out the tag of being a party that splits Marathi votes. “Our fight is with all other parties, especially with those in power,” insists MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar.
The Kalyan-Dombivli polls have now set the stage for the crucial municipal elections in major cities like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, which would be held in 2012. And going by the outcome in Kalyan, the MNS could pose a threat to all other parties and upset calculations. As long as the Sena is concerned, the party still has a potential to bounce back.