The poll campaign has been more or less lacklustre for BJP-Sena-RPI(A) but the recent victory in the Khadakwasla bypoll,which BJP won,is keeping the Maha-alliance hopes high for a repeat in the civic body polls.
The BJP is contesting 83 seats,Shiv Sena 55 and RPI 14. In the last PMC polls,BJP bagged 25 seats and Sena 21. This is the first time the saffron alliance is taking RPI (A) faction along. In 2007,the NCP earned the tag of the single-largest party by notching up 48 seats. BJP-Sena won 46 (BJP 25 and Sena 21),Congress won 42,and the MNS eight.
BJP had decided to contest 89 seats and the Shiv Sena 63 this time. After the seat-sharing talks,both decided to give around 15 seats to RPI from their share. Though there were hiccups with RPI demanding more,the matter was finally settled. BJP-Sena animosity was also on display as three Sena candidates were given AB forms in panels that fell in BJPs share. The issue was resolved later with Sena backing out. In one panel,an Independent is being supported by the BJP.
The BJP had decided that relatives of family members of corporators contesting the poll would not get party ticket though the Sena had made several exceptions to this rule. The three allies went independently with their manifesto release but decided to release a common manifesto on the last day of campaigning.
BJP-Sena senior leaders Uddhav Thackeray,Gopinath Munde,Sudhir Mungantiwar and Vinod Tawade campaigned for the polls. Even during the campaign,the BJP divide in the city unit,which had shown signs of receding after the Khadakwasla win,was evident between supporters of Munde and party national president Nitin Gadkari. Many Munde supporters did not get the ticket. Munde campaigned in several areas where his supporters were nominated. One BJP aspirant,denied ticket,is contesting as an Independent. Differences had also cropped up within the Sena with city unit chief Nana Wadekar not too happy with candidate selection.
In spite of differences,the allies managed to show a united front and attacked the Congress-NCP for crime,scams and corruption.
Like MNS chief Raj Thackeray,the Sena and the BJP rally speeches veered to neighbouring Gujarat when development was discussed. BJP leader Mungantiwar and Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe,cited Gujarat and Bihar as role models. The BJP assured to follow the Gujarat model if the alliance came to power in civic elections.