Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s calculated move to rake up anti-Pakistan propaganda may or may not find a connect with people but it has surely helped in rejuvenating its cadre ahead of the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) elections slated for November 1.
Highly placed sources reveal, “The Sena leadership has been relegated to the back seat for the last one year. The centrestage was occupied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Similarly, the Sena appeared faceless in the Devendra Fadnavis government.
However, the Sena did succeed in emerging as the main opposition party and Thackeray’s attack on price rise has struck a right note among the middle and poor class. The Sena’s stakes are extremely high in the KDMC elections as it cannot allow the BJP to make inroads into its bastion, which it ruled for the last three terms.
Reports of a poor performance in the elections, coupled with an aggressive BJP campaign (the party is ready to roll out Rs 6,500 crore to convert Kalyan Dombivali into a smart city) has caused massive discomfort in the Sena.
Insiders admit, “Whether it is converting Kalyan Dombivali into a smart city or announcing a package for upgrading its infrastructure, the BJP would steal the credit.” The Sena’s failure to strike an alliance with BJP for the 122-seat civic body has further compounded problems.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut has used the party mouthpiece Saamna to attack the Modi government on its Pakistan policy. Taking to the streets was also a calculated move to undermine the BJP on one hand and occupy centrestage on the other to show that Sena is still a force to reckon with.
But the big challenge for the Sena lies ahead. How would it counter anti-incumbency in KDMC? Will the anti-Pakistan rhetoric keep its vote share intact?
The BJP, which won only 9 seats out of 45 it contested last time along with the Sena, is on an aggressive campaign mode. The MNS, Congress and NCP are also trying their luck in the elections.
Insiders indicate that Sena still has an advanatge as far as its organisational strength is concerned. But what goes against them is its failure to address basic civic issues in the last five years.
In the last elections, the Sena won 31 seats out of 77 it contested. While the Sena was keen on an alliance with the BJP on the same seat sharing formula of 2010, the latter demanded an equal number of seats, which was rejected by the Sena.