BMC Polls: After PM Modi's visit, Mumbai BJP in mission mode; Shinde group starts shortlisting candidates

Eknath Shinde is said to have asked his party leaders to identify wards to field candidates; indications are that he will avoid wards which the BJP had won in the last polls

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 11:58 PM IST
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BMC Polls: After PM Modi's visit, Mumbai BJP in mission mode; Shinde group starts shortlisting candidates | File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mammoth rally at the BKC ground on Thursday has put the city unit of the BJP in Mission Mode. The party cadres are in an upbeat mood after the rally. In tandem with the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the party has started shortlisting candidates for the crucial election to the BMC, which may be held in March.

Shinde starts shortlisting candidates

It is learnt that Mr Shinde has also asked his party leaders to start identifying wards where the organisation can field candidates. Indications are that he will avoid wards which the BJP had won in the last polls. The BJP may not repeat some of its erstwhile corporators like Asha Marathe following opposition from the Sangh Parivar. 

Huge challenge for Bandra MLA Ashish Shelar

For president of the city unit of the BJP and Bandra MLA Ashish Shelar, the upcoming polls pose a huge challenge. If the party manages to secure a majority in the polls to the 227-member general body of the civic body, it will add another feather in its cap. Mr Shelar is known for his proximity to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who got him nominated to the powerful post of treasurer of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). Mr Shelar told the Free Press Journal that “we are working for a triple engine combination  and have started a n hashtag accordingly”.

Mr Shelar said, “Our party is already in power at the Centre and the state. We now plan to capture power in the BMC, which is necessary for the rapid development of the metropolis.” He said the theme of the poll campaign will be ‘vikas’ or development which will certainly get good traction from the electorate.

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Mr Shelar will be at the vanguard of the election campaign.

Spokesperson for the BJP, Atul Shah said, “The PM’s rally has demoralised the opposition and we will certainly benefit from that.” 

In 2017 BJP bagged 82 seats

In the 2017 polls, the BJP had acquitted itself rather well by bagging as many as 82 seats, which was only two short of the undivided Shiv Sena’s 84 seats. The BJP is banking on the schism in traditional Sena votes following a vertical split in the militant party.

PM's visit ahead of polls

Apart from the  launch projects worth Rs38,800 crore at the hands of the PM, the city BJP has also got the state government to allocate Rs2,000 crore for the beautification of Mumbai which is seen as a massive public relations exercise.

The Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, led by Mr Shinde, will be a junior partner of the BJP, which has a sizeable base among Uttar Bharatiya (North Indian) voters. The BJP is therefore making conscious efforts to win over Marathi voters by holding cultural and sports programmes. Marathi MLAs like Sunil Rane of Borivali and Prasad Lad of Sion-Koliwada are playing a crucial role in wooing Marathi voters.

The party is not taking Gujarati voters for granted and its leaders like Manoj Kotak and Parag Shah; both have been assigned the task of reaching out to the community. 

One more rally by Modi

It is learnt that Mr Modi will be requested to address yet another rally on the last day of the poll campaign to win the BMC which has a budget of over Rs45,000 crore.

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