Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has asked the party’s district chiefs to gear up for the gram panchayat elections on January 15 next year and ensure that Sena emerges as the winner. However, it has been left to the cadre to decide on forging alliances with Congress and NCP, Sena’s allies in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
Of the over 28,000 gram panchayats, elections to 14,234 of them in 34 districts were announced by the State Election Commission last week.
The polls for 1,566 grams panchayats were to be held in March but were deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, elections to 14,234 gram panchayats, whose terms are ending by December 2020, will go to polls on January 15.
In a meeting with the party’s district chiefs on Thursday, Thackeray instructed his cadre to make people aware of the government’s performance in the last one year and also take up issues faced by the people with the ministers and the administration.
“Party workers have been told to take the government’s work, such as fighting Covid-19, tackling Nisarga cyclone and heavy rainfall in Vidarbha and Marathwada, as well as its farm loan waiver scheme, to the people. People have a good opinion about the government and the CM and this will help us,” said a senior Sena leader.
Party insiders said that Thackeray did not instruct the district chiefs on whether they should to fight the polls along with Congress and NCP. While the three ruling parties have decided to fight the local bodies’ polls together, gram panchayat elections are not fought on party symbol but by forming a panel at the local level.
“The Sena chief has clearly told party workers to work hard to win maximum number of gram panchayats. An alliance will be formed with Congress and NCP wherever possible,” Sena secretary Vinayak Raut said.
Sena district chiefs said that the party will forge alliance with Congress and NCP considering the local scenario. “If we have a hold over the majority of gram panchayats in a block, why should we give space to other parties? If all three ruling parties have equal strength at gram panchayats, then we will certainly forge alliances with Congress and NCP to keep BJP out of power. But the decision to form an alliance will be taken in consultation with local functionaries,” said a district chief from western Maharashtra.
Another district chief said that forming an alliance would depend on Sena’s support base in a particular village. “Alliances will work in our favour to keep BJP out and win a majority of the gram panchayats,” he added.