They overcame threats from the Congress that it would split their party and, with a little help from bitter rivals the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), managed to retain control over the richest municipal corporation in the country.
After successive electoral debacles—they fared badly in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls—the Shiv Sena had reason to celebrate on Tuesday when its candidate Shraddha Jadhav was elected city mayor.
Jadhav defeated Congress candidate Priscila Kadam with a comfortable majority in a keenly contested election. Jadhav will head the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has a budget of Rs 19,000 crore.
The win helps mobilise resources for the party and helps it to connect to the masses.
The MNS’s decision to abstain from voting and the Samajwadi Party’s walkout from the voting process helped the Sena. Jadhav bagged 114 votes. Kadam polled only 95.
The Congress had handed over the campaign to former Sena leader and present Revenue Minister Narayan Rane who had said the Congress would perform a miracle by splitting the Sena.
“A miracle did take place,” said Jadhav. “But it was my leader Uddhav Thackeray who performed it.”
Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray rushed to the civic headquarters after the polls and said that Jadhav’s win confirmed that the bond between his party and Mumbai was intact. He also took a dig at Rane. “The traitors of the party have been taught a lesson by the loyalists,” said a triumphant Thackeray. “It is proved that everyone is not purchasable.”
The Congress, which tried to stall the poll on technical issues, said it was not a Sena victory. “How can they claim victory when Balasaheb himself had to intervene and they had to literally hide their corporators in hotels?” asked Rane’s son, Nitesh, who was handling the strategy for mayoral polls. “This is their condition despite ruling the BMC for the past decade.”
Nitesh said the Congress had enough Sena corporators willing to defect. “But there were last-minute problems due to which we abandoned the move.”
Jadhav said her priority is to ensure regular water supply and push for faster implementation of water-related projects.