“I owe this victory to Mumbaikars, my Shiv Sainiks, and Balasaheb Thackeray’s blessings. On my own, I am a zero,” said Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, a few hours after the civic elections result was declared on Friday.
The Sena won 108 seats with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Republican Party of India (RPI), just a few short of a majority of 114. The party hopes to fill the remaining seats with the help of independents and rebels.
An overwhelmed Uddhav said the victory was a “record of sorts” considering the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance had tried to put him down by claiming that the Sena would be inconsequential after the poll results.
“We have won the civic body election for the fourth time in a row despite the fact that the Congress and the NCP fought the elections together to damage us. We have shown them what we can do,” he said.
However, those who worked closely with Uddhav said there was much more to the win than just support. “His down-to-earth nature, meticulous planning, allowing party men to speak their mind, and the ability to look ahead helped us win,” said general secretary Anil Desai. “All parties, including the Congress-NCP combine and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), had teamed up against him. But he fought it out and emerged victorious. And our chief Balasaheb’s final rallies were a sweep.”
Political experts said the Sena’s well-planned campaign which began with ‘Karun Dakhavala’ (We have done it!) and full-page newspaper advertisements in the last leg of the campaigning played a crucial role in their win. In contrast, the Congress failed to make an impact. “It was a very good campaign and correctly pitched for the elections. It created an impression on people since it talked about their work,” psephologist Uday Nirgudkar said.
According to political analyst Surendra Jondhale, Uddhav’s plan about how to tackle rebels was noteworthy. “Minimising rebels by not revealing a list was clever. He also talked to rebels and convinced most of them to stay with the party,” he said.