Eye on polls, Shiv Sena chalks out game plan for Vidarbha
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray took stock of party’s poll preparedness in Vidarbha on Friday. During his visit, Thackeray met local leaders. Party insiders said the exercise was undertaken to strengthen the party’s foothold in the region, irrespective of an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Throughout the week, Thackeray met Sena leaders, MPs, zonal heads and coordinators from key regions in the state to chalk out a poll strategy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Although Sena has a substantial influence in Mumbai, Thane, Konkan and parts of Marathwada, it lacks influence in western Maharashtra and Vidarbha (considered a BJP stronghold). Hence, improving its performance in Vidarbha will work in Sena’s favour if a poll pact with the BJP does not materialise.
Sena functionaries said the party has always conceded the majority of seats to the BJP, whenever the two fought together, owing to which it never managed to cement its position in the Vidarbha.
“About 80% of seats have always gone to the BJP. But for the past year, we have worked hard to make our presence felt in the region. We are confident of improving our performance in the upcoming elections. We have upped the number of booth-level workers and district-level leaders in the past six months,” said a Sena functionary from Vidarbha.
Out of 10 Lok Sabha seats, the Sena won four seats in Vidarbha in 2014 Lok Sabha elections after joining hands with the BJP. However, the party won just four seats in Vidarbha after it went solo for the Assembly elections held later in the year.
Anil Desai, Sena secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, said the organisational set up is being strengthened in Vidarbha by filling vacant seats.
“One cannot go by the results of 2014 and 2009. If we performed badly in the past, we must work harder to produce better results. Currently, office-bearers are gauging the mood and expectations of the people and how they perceive the government’s performance with respect to what was promised. Besides, we are scanning probable candidates as well,” Desai said.