On Tuesday, Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, allies forming the state government, fought the BMC elections against each other following a dispute in their partnership in the BMC that had lasted for a period of 2 decades.
On Tuesday, Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, allies forming the state government, fought the BMC elections against each other following a dispute in their partnership in the BMC that had lasted for a period of 2 decades. Mumbai, too, went against its own reputation and recorded its highest ever turnout at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation with 55.28%. This upsurge was led by Maharashtrian dominated communities from localities in Central Mumbai and the suburbs, according to the IE. The finance capital of the country had earlier recorded an average of 44% voters turnout in the last polls. According to reports, the regions with the highest turnouts were dense with Maharashtrian residents; localities such as Dadar, Prabhadevi in Central Mumbai, Magathane and Dahisar in the Western suburbs saw the Marathi man emerging out of their houses to vote in numbers larger than ever in the city’s history.
And while a higher voter count does speak volumes of the ever increasing awareness of the people, it also seems that a large number of voters coming from Marathi-speaking communities came out after Shiv Sena’s emotional speech following the split with BJP. The highest turnout was recorded in R-Central Ward, consisting of Charkop, Borivali with 61.5% turnout, closely followed by R-North ward (Dahisar, Magathane) and 60.5% voters in T and S wards (Mulund, Bhandup). Leave Borivali and Mulund out of the equation and the rest are dominated by Maharashtrian communities. Shivaji Park of the Dadar region in Central Mumbai, recorded 62.47% turnout while the Kaburtarkhana and Kamgar Krida Kendra recorded 60% voting. Notably, both are Maharashtrian dominated wards. Shiv Sena leaders spoke to reporters and said that this was a proof of a huge number of Shiv Sena voters casting their votes. They further said that there was a huge number of ‘Shiv Sainiks’ most of them in their 60s had gone on the streets to cast their voters and support the party. One of the senior bannermen of Shiv Sena said that a lot of old timers had come out voting and made sure that others did too. He believed that the voting percent had increased by around 5% and since Shivaji Park, Kabutarkhana and Prabhadevi in Dadar, Parel and Sewri were all Sena’s fortresses, it was expected that they would get significantly more votes than last time.
Another bannerman said that for the last 3 months, the party had been holding meetings, asking the local shakhas to get hold of old sainiks. According to IE, political analysts have also admitted that the Shiv Sena had an edge over the BJP in the BMC polls. Even the Daulat Nagar- Nensey Colony in Magathane with over 70% Marathi voters saw 65% polling. Sitting corporation of the BMC, Shiv Sena’s Riddhi Khursunge stands against BJP’s Prakash Darekar in the region. In Ganpat Patil Nagar, Marathi voters outperformed the traditional high-voting North Indian belt too. And while it cannot be said for sure that a rise in Marathi speaking voters certain a Shiv Sena victory in Mumbai, it does say about the efforts that have been put in to raise voter awareness. However, if the results turn out to be in Shiv Sena’s favour, it might ring an alarm bell for the Devendra Fadnavis led BJP state government in Maharashtra. Shiv Sena has left no stone unturned in distancing itself from the BJP and a victory in the BMC polls would only indicate a growing dissent amongst people against the state government and its policies.