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Thackerays eye Thane votes

Considering the challenges the Sena is facing in its bastions, it wants to reap results wherever it can, reports Sanjeev Shivadekar.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2006 21:12 IST

This is the count of Shiv Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray’s Thane visit, indicating that the neighbouring city is on the top of party’s agenda.
Considering the challenges the Sena is facing in its bastions, it wants to reap results wherever it can.

The party top brass is not sure of retaining power in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) but it thinks that it can return to power in Thane Municipal Corporation. With the civic polls nearing, stakes for supremacy in this suburb is very high. Besides, the Thane district with over 81 lakh population — mostly middle class Maharashtrians — can be Sena’s stronghold.

Moreover, after the delimitation exercise, assembly seats in Thane will go up to 24, an increase of 11 seats. No party can now ignore this region.
No wonder Thackeray does not want to lose ground here. In the last six months, Uddhav attended more than half-a-dozen functions here, including a Bhojpuri function. He is also eyeing the north Indian voters, who have sizeable numbers in some pockets.

Sena leader Subhash Desai pointed out the importance of Thane. “It votes more number of Members of Parliament (MP) than even Goa. It’s an important region for the party. After all, our first power seat was in Thane and we don’t want to lose it.”

It was in Thane that the Sena won its first municipal body. Currently, Sena-BJP alliance draws its strength from the BMC and Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) it rules. However, after Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray quit the party, its supremacy in Mumbai is uncertain and hence the focus on Thane.

Uddhav has been trying to bring back the cadre in Thane that left the party and joined Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

On Wednesday, he succeeded in getting MNS Thane city president Avinash Pawar and Sanjay Patil and some other leaders back into the party.

A few months ago, Uddhav also instructed Sena legislators and Rajya Sabha MPs to use maximum funds for development in Mumbai and Thane.

A senior Sena leader, on condition of anonymity, said: “Uddhavji has directed us
to use maximum funds in these areas and do whatever is possible before the elections.”

Meanwhile, Uddhav’s political rival, Raj is also gearing up for a serious campaign in Thane. MNS spokesperson Shirish Parkar and slain BJP leader Pramod Mahajan’s brother, Prakash, will address a series of rallies in Thane district in the coming week.

Parkar said: “Rajsaheb enjoys good support in Thane. We have organised a rally in this region to garner more support.”

Thane’s importance

After the delimitation in the state, the assembly seats in Thane would go up to 24 — an increase in 11 seats. And to benefit from these increased seats, all political parties including the NCP, Congress and Sena and recently formed MNS have already started wooing voters.

First Published: Nov 22, 2006 21:12 IST