Battle for Mumbai civic body: BJP gets into poll position versus Sena
Party to undertake home-to-home outreach; BJP wants city’s importance to diminish, says SenaUpdated: Nov 22, 2020, 00:55 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is aiming to win the polls for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is controlled by the Shiv Sena for more than three decades. The elections for one of Asia’s richest civic bodies, with an annual budget of ₹33,441 for the 2020-21 fiscal, is slated to take place in the next 15 months.
The BJP has also geared up to win sizable seats in 14 other civic bodies — five of which will go to polls soon, and the remaining nine will hold elections in 2022.
The party held its first meeting of the executive committee for Mumbai civic body polls three days ago. It has appointed its Kandivli legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar as election in-charge for Mumbai, while Bandra legislator Ashish Shelar, Member of Legislative Council (MLC) Prasad Lad and Airoli legislator Ganesh Naik have been assigned responsibilities for Thane, Vasai-Virar and Navi Mumbai, respectively.
The campaigns will be spearheaded by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who squarely targeted the Shiv Sena during the party’s first executive meeting on Wednesday.
“Shiv Sena’s life is stuck in BMC and we should hit where it hurts them the most. Each ward will have a key leader as in-charge and the youth and women wings of the party will engage in person-to-person and home-to-home outreach,” Fadnavis said.
BJP’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil said the party’s Mumbai unit will have a parliamentary board which will take decisions related to BMC elections with approval from the state parliamentary board.
According to a BJP office-bearer, the party is looking to hurt the political prospects of the Sena, which is seen as its prime political rival after the two snapped ties last year.
“The relations between the BJP and Sena have strained beyond repair. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has sternly opposed any ties with the Sena in future. In the 2017 elections, we fought separately and attacked each other very strongly, but we still continued to be alliance partners in the state. This time, it will be an even bitter tussle,” he said, adding that the party has started making in-roads in Sena citadels and the results will be better than the elections in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Sena has sharply reacted to BJP’s attack. “The BJP wants to control Mumbai, its businesses, financial turnover and land. They want to diminish its importance. [But] Mumbai voters will decide which saffron flag they want to see hoisted at the BMC headquarters,” Sena’s parliamentarian Sanjay Raut said a couple of days ago.
Political analyst Hemant Desai said the BJP has an edge over other parties as far as the preparations are concerned. “While the three ruling parties have not held even a single coordination meeting, the BJP has started preparations for BMC elections. The BJP has strategically started raking up issues of Hindutva, Chhath Puja, reopening of temples and excessive power bills, which impact different set of voters in Mumbai. The Sena’s connect with the common people, which was its strength, appears to be lost,” said Desai.