With the Shiv Sena and BJP neck and neck in the BMC polls, the Marathi voter’s emergence as the most crucial factor in the civic polls has helped the Sena to save face in winning two seats more than the BJP. However, the Sena is worried by the BJP’s victories in Goregaon and Girgaum, Maharashtrian-dominated areas where the party won the maximum number of seats. Sena leaders believe that it is difficult to retain control of Mumbai by banking only on Marathi voters.
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“Though we have received a large number of Marathi votes in the polls, some of the Marathi votes did go to the BJP. It essentially means that it will be difficult for the party to rely only on Marathi votes. Had it not been for the Marathi votes, we might have won less seats than the BJP,” said a Sena functionary.
The party member said that going by Thursday’s results, the division of Marathi votes is inevitable in the coming years. “The Sena, and party president Uddhav Thackeray, personally fought for the right of the Marathi people affected by the Metro 3 project in the Girgaum and Kalbadevi area. Still, we could not manage to win a single seat in the area,” added the functionary. All the seats in the Girgaum and Kalbadevi were won by BJP candidates.
Besides, in suburban areas such as Goregaon, Vile Parle and Andheri (West), the Marathi votes went to the BJP. “Though there is not much dent on the Sena’s seats, it has still made a mark in the Maharashtrian-dominated areas which were always with the Sena,” said a Sena leader.
City BJP leaders have been making consistent efforts in the Maharashtrian-dominated area for the past few years and some of their activities include Ganesh Festivals, Diwali celebrations and Maharashtra Day celebration.
For the Sena, the only consolation was that it regained its hold over the Dadar and Prabhadevi areas by winning all the seats it had lost to MNS in the 2012 civic polls. While the Sena won all five seats in the Dadar area, its tally increased in other Marathi heartland areas such as Worli, Parel, Sewri and Bhandup in the eastern suburbs.
The party did not get much of the North Indian and Gujarati votes despite its outreach to them and fielding some candidates from these communities, said a Sena leader.