THE DECLINE of Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in the city was attributed to emergence of Raj Thackeray-led MNS but this time around, the chances of better performance of Shiv Sena has brightened in civic elections due to two factors — drop in popularity of MNS and Sena’s aggressive stand against its ally BJP.
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In 2012 PMC polls, the Sena strength dropped to 15 from 20 in the previous polls. Its decline continued in the 2014 Assembly elections as it could not retain two seats it had won in 2009 and lost to old ally BJP.
The Sena had a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in the last few civic polls but the current relation between the two has changed after they independently contested the state elections. There is also uncertainty over the pre-poll alliance between the two with the leaders of both parties continuously taking on each other.
In its bid to take on the BJP, the Sena began the preparation for PMC elections a year ago. It appointed former legislator Vinayak Nimhan to head its city unit. Thereafter, city Sena has been criticising the BJP for water shortage, traffic issues and garbage disposal in the city.
It had been openly criticising the eight legislators and MP elected from city to resolve its issues. Last month, Sena’s city unit took out a ‘parivartan morcha’ and hit out at BJP-led government, along with the ruling NCP in the civic body, for sufferings of the residents.
The Sena further declared that it wanted to contest civic polls independently. “The Sena has shown its strength in the previous state Assembly election. This was despite the Modi wave and a last-minute ditch by the BJP,” said city Sena chief Vinayak Nimhan.
The BJP cannot take us lightly, he said, adding, “The Sena chief, Uddhav Thackeray, was keeping a track of PMC poll preparations. The vote-bank that had drifted to MNS in the previous civic polls are all set to return to Sena due to drop in popularity of MNS.”
Currently, Sena has the least number of elected members in PMC but is acting as the leading Opposition by holding protests across the city, Nimhan added.
Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil and state minister Vijay Shivtare are also actively involved in city politics for PMC polls.