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BMC elections 2017: Uddhav Thackeray’s aggression seems to have paid off for Shiv Sena

Winning municipal elections, particularly in Mumbai and Thane is crucial for Sena to recover ground in the state. It will give the Sena a lot more space to fight the BJP in the government’s decisions at the state level.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi |
February 23, 2017 4:00:55 pm
BMC polls, Shiv Sena, Shiv Sena BJP BMC polls, Anil Desai Shiv Sena, Maharashtra civic polls Sena, Maharashtra local body polls, local body polls Shiv Sena BJP, India news, latest news Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray. (File Photo)

The results of Maharashtra civic polls look to be a clear manifestation of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s coming of age as a strong politician. After Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s demise, there was a conflict over handing Uddhav the reins of the party as against the more feisty Raj Thackeray who broke away to form his own political outfit, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. But the way Uddhav has took on the BJP over the past few months shows he is not a weak leader people took him to be.

Shiv Sena is runaway leader in Mumbai and Thane and is close in Nashik result as well. The party clearly doesn’t have any standing in Nagpur due to the huge influence of RSS with its headquarters located in the city. However, such a performance in only his second civic polls in charge is commendable.

Winning municipal elections, particularly in Mumbai and Thane is crucial for Sena to recover ground in the state. It will give the Sena a lot more space to fight the BJP in the government’s decisions at the state level. This election was in many ways a referendum on Uddhav’s leadership and he seems to have done justice.

Sena has historically led the show in the state with BJP as the smaller partner but the former was overtaken in 2014 at the state and at the Lok Sabha level. Uddhav’s constant criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for mismanagement of the state alliance signalled a coming of age moment where the usually calm Uddhav stood up against the BJP denying the latter a free hand in their alliance.

Uddhav’s decision to break up the alliance after BJP refused the 60-seat offer in BMC was key in such a massive victory for the Shiv Sena. Under the command of founder Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena caught the imagination of Mumbai and neighbouring cities. What sets it apart from the BJP is the strong focus on local dominance of Marathis. Uddhav took it upon himself to invoke Sena’s Marathi credo to go up against the BJP.

Demonetisation doesn’t seem to be a game changer as the decision brought the BJP near to victory in Nagpur, Pune, Nashik and Pimpri Chinchwad. Uddhav’s aggressive approach seems to have made the difference in BMC and PMC polls as Sena followers found a strong leader again in Uddhav after his father.

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