FOR ALMOST four decades, the Shiv Sena banked on the Marathi-speaking population in Mumbai to vie for power in the country’s richest municipality — the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. That may be about to change.
Mumbai’s changing voter demographic has now forced the party to woo a larger base in the build-up to the 2017 civic polls on February 21.
Sources confirmed that the party’s new branding campaign #Didyouknow? was designed to appeal to the non-Marathi speaking population. The campaign, which focuses on development work carried out by the municipality under the party’s leadership, is primarily aimed at middle-class youth, said sources.
While the party has already put up #Didyouknow? posters and hoardings in densely-populated sites in the first leg of the campaign, sources said that social media and digital campaigns, and video advertisements, will be rolled out in the second and third legs, starting January 18. In the 2012 civic polls, the Shiv Sena had adopted the ‘Karun Dakhavala (We did it)’ tagline for campaigning.
When contacted, Thackeray scion and Shiv Sena’s GenNext face Aditya Thackeray, said, “We have worked for all sections of society. The #Didyouknow? campaign is an attempt to highlight fascinating information about the civic body, which may not be known to all. For instance, did you know that 480 civic schools have been transformed into digital campuses? Similarly, not many know that 725 new gardens (green spaces) have been developed.”
Sources said the tactical shift was spearheaded by Aditya but unlike previous campaigns, the hoardings and posters do not carry his pictures or those of the late Bal Thackeray or party president Uddhav Thackeray. However, the party symbol (bow and an arrow) has been prominently displayed, along with the saffron background to advance its ideology, said sources.
Shiv Sena sources said the changing voter demographic of Mumbai was the main reason behind the new campaign, which they described as the most significant tactical shift in the build-up to the polls. Mumbai’s latest census count reveals that the Marathi-speaking community accounts for 29 per cent of the city’s population.
Riding on Narendra Modi’s popularity among the middle class, the BJP had edged out the Shiv Sena in the 2014 Assembly polls in Mumbai. While the Shiv Sena won 14 of the 36 seats here, the BJP won 15.
“The idea is to reach out to a new generation of voters,” said Bhupal Ramnathkar, chairman and creative designer, Umbrella Design, who has designed the branding campaign.
The ‘development’ pitch comes at a time when other parties in the fray, including ally BJP, Congress and NCP, have been campaigning against “misgovernance and graft” in the civic body.