Will It Be BJP vs Shiv Sena in Mumbai’s BMC Elections?

The Shiv Sena will have to tackle anti-incumbency and allegations of corruption to win, while the BJP is keen to consolidate on gains made in 2014 to take control of the Asia’s richest civic body.

Mumbai : Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis along with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Credit: PTI

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis along with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Credit: PTI

Mumbai: The upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections will be a trial of survival for the ruling Shiv Sena, while ally BJP, now the dominant partner in Maharashtra, is seeing the electoral battle as an opportunity to take control of Asia’s richest civic body to create space for itself in the city’s political landscape.

Political observers say the election will primarily be a Shiv Sena vs BJP battle. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will take a decision on the alliance with Shiv Sena, which has maintained that it will only forge an alliance only if an “honourable pact” is offered.

However, given the frosty relations between the parties, the two are yet to discuss a possible alliance.

A BJP leader said the party has invited district unit presidents to submit a list of probable candidates for the civic polls. Only those candidates who get the highest ratings in an internal survey will get party tickets.

The BJP is already preparing for the polls, having put in place its organisational structure up to booth levels in all wards.

Grassroot workers are of the view that the BJP should go alone and the party expects to win more than 80 seats or emerge as the single largest party in the 227-member House.

Workers are of the view that the party made good gains in 2014 winning 15 MLAs and two MPs but the need of the hour is to consolidate on these gains.

“Time is ripe. If not now, then BJP will never be able to expand in Mumbai,” a leader said.

“As per the assembly election results of 2014, BJP was ahead in over 144 wards,” the BJP leader added.

The BJP, which has been in power with the Shiv Sena in the civic body for over two decades now, appears keen to want to unseat the Sena by highlighting the alleged corruption within the BMC.

No space for competition

Currently, the BJP has 33 corporators while the Shiv Sena has 75 members. The Congress and the NCP have 52 and 13 members each, while the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has 28 members in the municipal body.

“The Sena and BJP contesting separately will leave the Congress with no space in the election discourse. Congress, which is already a faction ridden unit will raise national issues and target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will work in BJP’s favour as supporters of Modi will consolidate and stand firm with the party,” a BJP leader said.

Meanwhile, Raj Thackeray’s MNS is not considered a electoral factor, while the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, which won a seat in the assembly elections will look to take a sizeable chunk of Muslim votes, political observers said.

With the NCP already announcing their list of 45 candidates, chances of a Congress-NCP alliance appear bleak. The Congress has got nearly 1,400 applications from aspiring candidates, with the party currently in the process of selecting its candidates. While city unit chief Sanjay Nirupam maintained that the Congress will go it alone in the elections, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan said an alliance will take place only if the local unit wishes. “The NCP was our ally. Now it is just an ad hoc arrangement,” he said.

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