Reach out to farmers, Uddhav Thackeray tells his cadre
With the Assembly elections due in the next few months, the Shiv Sena seems to be adopting an aggressive stance to woo farmers .
In a meeting of Sena leaders and office-bearers on Friday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked them to provide relief to farmers who are facing unprecedented drought. “Go and reach out to farmers and provide them all possible assistance,” said Thackeray, in the meeting.
In Kolhapur, the Sena organised a meeting of farmers with crop insurance officials to help settle the claims of a majority of farmers. The Sena also plans to facilitate water supply to farmers as well as provide fodder for animals.
For the past few months, the Sena has been using its well-oiled organisational network to woo farmers, so their numbers can go up in the Assembly, which can, in turn, increase their bargaining power. In 1995, when the Sena-BJP won power, the Sena bagged the chief minister’s post, as it had more seats than the BJP. However in the 2014 polls, the allies parted ways and the BJP was able to come to power with 122 seats, followed by the Sena at 63. For this year’s elections, the BJP and Sena have arrived at an understanding that they will contest equal number of seats, after giving a few to their allies.
Buoyed by the success of its alliance with the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, the Sena is determined to grab plum position in the next government. They are looking at the chance to make inroads in rural areas, as the Congress and NCP cadre is considerably demoralised.
In fact, a section has been advocating the name of Aaditya Thackeray as its next chief minister. The Sena even said the chief minister’s post would be rotated between the two for two-and-a-half years each. The BJP sources, however, denied any such deal.
Political analysts called it a competition between the two allies. “The Sena has a strong urban presence and knows that it needs to perform in rural areas to be in the driving seat,” said political analyst Hemant Desai.
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