The Bhartiya Janata Party in Mumbai has had the last laugh in the civic elections!
The party, which was being offered 60 seats of the total 227 by partner Shiv Sena won 82 seats. BJP wins 82nd seat by lottery, only two behind Shiv Sena which won 84 seats.
On January 26, 2017, Uddhav Thackeray in a high-on-drama meeting of his party announced the Sena would not contest any elections with the BJP henceforth. He also said that BJP asking more seats than what was offered was unacceptable and hence he had decided to contest alone.
Sena has a long and strong presence in Mumbai, from being born in the city, to having the Mayor’s chair answering to Matoshree (party headquarters) for more than two decades. The Sena has an unmatched cadre base too.
But the fact that it couldn’t cross the 100-seat mark, which isn’t even 50 per cent of the total it contested, is a matter of worry for the party. The Sena also couldn’t consolidate Gujarati votes, despite Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray inviting Hardik Patel to his house. In Gujarati belts like Borivali, Ghatkopar and Mulund, the BJP had a clean sweep.
The BJP still has to make inroads in certain Marathi strong belts like Shivaji Park, Lalbaug-Parel and others. They could not win here in spite of getting strong Sena leaders contest on BJP tickets.
But the BJP has grown much stronger than its last tally of 31 corporators in 2012.
The Shiv Sena had been the big brother in Mumbai until 2014 when the BJP won one more seat than the Sena in the Maharashtra Assembly elections.
One should recall what BJP national president Amit Shah had said after the 2014 Assembly elections – the party had won more than what was offered by the Sena.
History has repeated itself and the BJP’s presence is growing in Mumbai — once the heart of Shiv Sena.