At 55, Sena faces challenge of consolidating its position

Mumbai: As Shiv Sena turns 55 on June 19, it faces a dual challenge of the survival of the party-led alliance government in Maharashtra and consolidates its position while playing Hindutva and secularism cards simultaneously.

Even though the party president Uddhav Thackeray has hinted that Shiv Sena will not shake hands again with BJP for its future growth, the party will have to further strengthen its ties with new allies NCP and Congress in a bid to take on its estranged ally BJP.

Thackeray is expected to reveal the party's roadmap for ensuing BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections at the 55th foundation day in his virtual address. At the same time, he is expected to urge Shiv Sainiks not to be complacent but gear up to take on BJP.

Shiv Sena faces an acid test to retain its power in the BMC in the coming elections slated for 2022 especially when BJP has launched Mission 2022 with a resolve to elect its mayor. It will be the first election after the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government took over in November 2019. Thackeray will have to equally pay more attention to further strengthening the party organization by increasing dialogue with rank and file and giving more powers to Shakhas.

Thackeray took out time from his busy schedule on Thursday after a group of Shivsainiks came face to face with BJP activists who had staged a protest against Shiv Sena’s statement on the allegations of a scam in the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Thackeray will have to keep the rank and file charged but he will have to tell them to show restraint as Shiv Sena is leading the alliance government in the state.

Ahead of BMC elections, BJP will step up its efforts to corner Shiv Sena on Hindutva, corruption in BMC and in the state government. The Shiv Sena will have to be ready to counter BJP by aggressively selling a development plank to the voters. At the same time, Thackeray cannot afford to lose his new allies so he will have to reach out to them with a proposal to continue alliance with BMC and assembly elections too.

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