High-pitched campaigns by rivals Shiv Sena and the Maharashtrian Navnirman Sena (MNS) aimed at the Marathi votebank seem to have led to a rise in the number of Marathi corporators in the newly-elected municipal corporation.
The number of Marathi-speaking corporators has gone up from 139 in the last election to 159 after this year's polls.
Desperate to retain power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Shiv Sena undertook an emotive campaign 'warning' the Marathi voter that the city could go into the hands of 'outsiders' if the Congress was voted to power. This, along with the Marathi manoos agenda played by the MNS, polarised Marathi votes, leading to a high turnout in Marathi pockets across the city.
Marathi-dominated areas like Dadar, Lalbaug, Parel, Bhandup, Vikhroli, Girgaum, Tardeo, Worli, and Lower Parel elected the most SS or MNS candidates. In Bhandup, of the 13 seats, five went to the MNS, while four were secured by the Sena. At 51%, voting turnout in this area was also the highest. In Prabhadevi and Worli, seven of the nine seats have been shared by the SS and the MNS.
The MNS was the biggest beneficiary of the polarisation, with its tally increasing from seven to 28 in these elections. All successful candidates from the MNS are, of course, Marathi.
Even the BJP saw an increase in the number of number of Marathi corporators elected. From 13 in 2007, the BJP now has 17 Marathi corporators.
Political analyst Surendra Jondhale confirmed that the polarisation of Maharashtrian votes resulted in more Marathi candidates getting elected. He added that the 50% reservation for women also benefitted the SS and the MNS. "In Marathi-dominated areas, locally known women activists proved beneficial for the two parties," Jondhale said.