Surmounting anti- incumbency factor and stiff challenge from the MNS, the Shiv Sena- BJP alliance has retained the BMC. It is also poised to retain neighbouring Thane with the help of independents though future looked uncertain for it in Ulha
snagar that threw up ahung house.
CHAITANYA MARPAKWAR Mumbai
Overcoming the 17- year long anti- incumbency factor and battling against all odds, including the formidable Congress- NCP combine and the challenge thrown by MNS chief Raj Thackeray, the Shiv Sena- BJP- RPI combine has retained the prestigious Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation ( BMC).
The sentiment in the city was against the Cong- NCP regime, fueled by the aggressive campaign of the opposition on the issues of pothole- ridden roads, dirty streets overflowing with garbage, contaminated water and crumbling city infrastructure.
The media too had gone overboard pinning down the Sena for its perceived failures in the BMC. In spite of all this, the Sena, Maharashtras first party to exclusively champion the cause of the Marathi Manoos, managed to hold the fort.
One of the biggest factors that proved to be a game changer for the Sena was the low voter turn out which indicated that the city was not inclined to seek a mandate for change. Result: The anti- incumbency factor did not come into play. Had there been a larger turnout, possibly it would have been offset to an extent.
” There was no anti- incumbency factor at play.
The Marathi Manoos voted like a minority, in chunks and for survival. Thats the reason why the Sena has retained its core voters and the MNS has managed to make inroads, it has eaten into the Marathi votes of all parties. The emotional appeal by Bal Thackeray played a major role in the last phase of Senas campaign. The Sena gave 50% of the tickets to fresh faces, that was a gamble on Uddhavs part which neutralized the anti- incumbency factor,” explains veteran journalist Prakash Joshi.
Apart from the Senas aggressive alt39 we did italt39 campaign, it was the bickering within the Congress that led to the alliances defeat.
Senior Congress leaders like Gurudas Kamat and MP Priya Dutt were unhappy and did not work hard for their partys candidates.
Congress leader Ajit Sawat, who was expelled from the party, fielded many rebels. They ate into the Congresss alt39 secularalt39 votes, thereby helping the Sena. On the other hand, Marathi dominated areas, where the Sena is a robust presence, saw good turnouts, ensuring that the Sena retained its core seats.
Women reservation also helped the Sena, since it was the only party with an active, full time womens wing. Many parties did not bother to pick right and strong women candidates, but Senas women brigade was bang on target.
” Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray was more active this time.
And, the senior Thackerays charisma worked, because in Mumbai people are emotionally attached to him. He was in the best of health and pumped life into a Sena that was otherwise on ventilator. Plus he had the support of Uddhav and Aditya. On the other hand, the Congress had no star campaigner who could pull crowds,” points out political commentator Prakash Bal.
The Sena hit a positive note right from day one and Uddhav played a political masterstroke by not declaring the list of candidates till the last day of filing of nominations was over. Thereby, the party kept disgruntled elements at bay.
Moreover, the Sena went in for corporate advertising, as against the Congressalt39 jaded ads. The ads, apart from running down the opposition, also played on emotions. One such advertisement stated that like each bow needs an arrow, Mumbai needs the Shiv Sena.
Compared to the Sena, it was perceived that Congress is mired in scams. The Sena- BJP looked relatively clean.
WHY THE SENA WON?
œ Low voter turnout, Sena core voters stepped out. Swing voters stayed at home œ Bal Thackeray, too, hit the campaign trial. His emotional appeal struck a chord.<