Mumbai civic body polls: Snack in Sena’s tagline to woo city Gujaratis
With an eye on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in February 2022, the ruling Shiv Sena now plans to woo Gujarati voters, who have the potential to impact a sizable number of seats in Mumbai, with a tagline involving their traditional snack – ‘Mumbai ma jalebi fafda, Uddhav Thackeray aapda’.
The BMC election will be a major battle between the two former allies – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena – after the shift in the political dynamic in November 2019. Traditionally, Gujaratis and Marwaris are BJP voters.
As a part of the campaign, Hemraj Shah, an organiser of the Shiv Sena, has arranged for a gathering of people from the community on January 10. The party’s campaign leaflet said the BMC election was “prestigious” for the Sena. It added that the elections in February 2022 will be held in a totally different environment because the power has been “wrestled away from the narrow-minded BJP leaders by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray” and the “BJP has become sick”.
Shah said that the idea behind the gathering is to create awareness of the work done by the party and the CM for the community. He said that senior party leaders will not be present at the gathering. However, the party chief and other leaders may address the community at a later stage of campaigning, he said.
The Shiv Sena has not had a great connect with the Gujarati community over the past few decades. The party targeted the community on several occasions and issues. In the past few years, under Uddhav Thackeray, the Shiv Sena shed its Mumbai-centric image to be seen as a Hindutva party. The Sena has been insisting that the trading community was protected by its cadre during the 1991-92 Mumbai riots.
“The younger generation of Mumbai does not know what the party has done for the community. Among other things, I plan to tell them how Balasaheb [Thackeray] stood with the community during the Mumbai riots,” said Shah, adding that the party reaches out to all communities.
Shah said that owing to the restrictions for Covid-19, only 100 people who arrive first at the hall in suburban Mumbai will be allowed to attend. He added that he will also speak to the community members about the work done by Thackeray to bring Covid-19 under control in Mumbai.
Although a few Gujaratis have been elected as councillors on Sena tickets, the Sena does not have a strong leader from the community. Ahead of the 2017 BMC elections, there was an influx of leaders from the community, who were given tickets to contest. Several of the Gujarati faces were defeated by BJP candidates. Subsequently, the Sena saw many Gujarati leaders leave the party as they felt they did not get enough representation in the party.
Political analyst Surendra Jondhale said the move is a “humble” attempt to woo the community. “There has been soft animosity between the Shiv Sena and Gujarati community. With the rise of [Narendra] Modi, the community became politically assertive. Now, the BMC election is crucial for the Sena as it is going against the BJP,” he said.
BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar, who is the party’s in-charge of the BMC polls, said the Sena only remembers Gujaratis during an election. “Let the Shiv Sena woo them, but the Gujarati community has decided to overthrow the Janaab Sena (referring to an Urdu calendar published by Sena’s youth wing where Bal Thackeray was referred as Janaab )”, he said.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- "Every district has set up five such centres today. However, there are 19 such centres in Thane district due to higher demand there. There are 189 such centres in the state exclusively for vaccinating women," the official said.
- The 82-year-old activist, who was granted interim bail for six months on medical grounds by the Bombay high court on February 22, was discharged from the private hospital late Saturday night, they said.