Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray may have won the most number of seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), but yet he cannot claim victory over his new found rival– the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). And there are several reasons for that and not just the numbers. For the first time in several years, both Sena and BJP parted ways ahead of the civic polls to fight separately. However, the results have returned surprising gains for the BJP and also the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The BJP has won 81 out of the 227 seats and the Shiv Sena could win only 84, shattering Uddhav’s dream of running Asia’s richest civic body alone. The results of the civic polls, however, have been on the expected lines for the both the saffron parties. Separated, they have won most of the seats and bettered what they had scored together in 2012 elections. Surprisingly, the Congress lost almost half of the seats it had won in the previous election and ended up at 31, the NCP (9) and Raj Thackeray’s MNS (7) suffered massive defeats.
Thackeray’s real challenge, however, starts now. He had earlier claimed that Sena would itself win a clear majority to run the BMC. However, the result has not been as per his expectation. What may add further to the woes of Sena chief is the fact that four independents have decided to join the BJP after winning the polls. This makes BJP the largest party in the BMC numerically.
To run the BMC, Sena would have to go into an alliance with other parties and it doesn’t have many options. The easiest option for Uddhav is to patch up again with the BJP. Both parties are already running the state government together. If not, Sena would find it hard to meet the numbers. Reasons: Without BJP, Sena can attain a clear majority only in an alliance with the Congress. If Uddhav does so, he would endanger the state government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Moreover, Uddhav may suffer more if his decision forces the state to undergo another Assembly elections. Second, Uddhav also has the option of taking combined support of the MNS, NCP and others. While stitching such an alliance would be next to impossible, the numbers, however, may still fall short of the clear majority.
In Uddhav’s hands now lies not just the fate of BMC but also the state government. He may eventually have to patch up with the BJP in the larger interest of the people of the state. Will he?