Mumbai civic polls: Shiv Sena looks to retain its core voter base
Jolted with defections and internal rebellions, the Shiv Sena raced to field candidates for all 227 wards for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), attempting to balance the wishes of irate Shiv Sainiks wanting tickets for their kin, and giving finishing touches to its list till the eleventh hour.mumbai Updated: Feb 04, 2017 23:53 IST
Jolted with defections and internal rebellions, the Shiv Sena raced to field candidates for all 227 wards for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), attempting to balance the wishes of irate Shiv Sainiks wanting tickets for their kin, and giving finishing touches to its list till the eleventh hour.
Despite the party’s gradual attempt to wear a more cosmopolitan image in keeping with Mumbai’s changing demographics, over 85 percent of the party’s list comprises Maharashtrian candidates, trying to protect its core voter base of the Marathi-speaking population from ally-turned-rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Sena has, however, fielded at least five Muslim candidates from wards with a predominantly Muslim population. These include Shahida Khan from ward number 64 (Amboli), Neha Shaikh from ward number 78 (Andheri East), Mohammad Khan from ward number 96 (Behrampada), Shabnam Shaikh from ward number 136 (Shivaji Nagar, Mankhurd) and Shehnaaz Shaikh from ward number 188 (Dharavi). The party has also fielded a Catholic candidate, Brinal George Fernandes, from Bandra’s Pali Hill area, an area with a large Christian vote bank. Besides, about ten percent of the party’s candidate list comprises Gujarati and North Indian names from wards in areas such as Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Goregaon, Mulund, Ghatkopar, Chandivali, Matunga, Dharavi and Kalbadevi.
For instance, the Sena fielded newly-inducted Mangal Bhanushali, the BJP’s Gujarati cell chief who jumped over to the Sena, from Ghatkopar, a Gujarati-dominated BJP stronghold.
The party has also ensured that it accommodates other leaders who joined the Shiv Sena at the cusp of elections. Former Congress leader Devendra Amberkar has been given candidature from ward number 68 (Versova), while former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Prakash Patankar’s wife Seema Patankar has been fielded from ward number 192(Dadar).
A majority of the Shiv Sena’s list promotes family members of senior shakha heads, former and sitting corporators and the party’s legislators, sparking several internal strifes. The Sena suffered a setback with three leaders - Sanjay Ambole from Parel, Dinesh Panchal from Chembur and Prabhakar Shinde from Mulund jumping ship to the BJP. Despite firefighting and attempting to pacify angry leaders who lost tickets to the kin of some of the party’s more famous names, at least two Sainiks filed nominations as independents, intensifying the competition for the Sena’s candidates. Mahesh Sawant from Prabhadevi was one such candidate who will now compete with Sena legislator Sada Sarvankar’s son Samadhan Sarvankar, while Aditi Sawant, wife of a former Sena shakha pramukh, will contest as an independent against Sena’s official candidate Urmila Panchal.