Uddhav Thackeray, who lost the party name and symbol to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, could face a big blow in the next few weeks.
The Shinde group has formed a team to lure more than 40 former corporators of the Uddhav Thackeray faction from Mumbai to join hands with Shinde. This could decisively alter the outcome of the BMC elections, which could take place in a few months.
Shinde is likely to use the Election Commission’s (EC’s) decision on Friday to give his faction the party name and symbol to increase his influence in Mumbai city, which has been the Sena bastion for about four decades. The party has been ruling the city since 1995, first under its founder Bal Thackeray and for the last two decades under Uddhav Thackeray.
Getting the support of former corporators of the Shiv Sena will help Shinde in two ways. It will give him a sense of control on the party's cadre in city and increase his bargaining power during seat sharing talks with the BJP ahead of the BMC elections.
A team of people closely associated with BMC politics have for the last two months been working the plan to get former corporators of the Sena on board, highly placed sources told The Free Press Journal. They are contacting the former corporators and assuring them all the help during and after elections to get them on board. This team has also being saying that they will get recognition as the real Shiv Sena from the EC so that switching sides for these ex-corporators would not be a problem.
“Everyone is worried about his or her political future. We have assured them of total cooperation today and in the future. Chief Minister Shinde is known for taking care of leaders and cadre. So we are getting a good response. With this (EC decision) the faith of ex-corporators in our plan has certainly increased," a member of this team said.
Two ex-corporators said they were contacted by 'Team Shinde' in the last two weeks. One even said that their assurance of help during the election and the future political career is promising but he is speaking to party workers from his ward.
This gains significance as Uddhav Thackeray had predicted the possibility of BMC elections in two months, while talking to the media about the EC’s decision. The recent Mumbai visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also indicates this. Once the courts decide on the ward delimitation and OBC quota, the state election commission could announce local body polls.
BMC has been at the heart of Uddhav Thackeray's politics. The BJP is leaving no stone unturned to win this rich municipality. The result of the BMC elections has the capacity to change the course of state politics for years to come. In this situation, if more than 40 former corporators join hands with Shinde, it would be a big blow for the Uddhav Thackeray group.
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