The Uddhav Thackeray camp in the Shiv Sena, which has already said it will “strongly present” its case before the Election Commission, is ready with Plan B if it were to lose the bow-and-arrow symbol to the rival Eknath Shinde group or the EC were to freeze it.
A senior party office-bearer told The Free Press Journal, “The party does not want to take any chance if the EC were to rule against us. Plan B is ready for the situation if the party has to contest the upcoming BMC election with a new symbol.”
The plan includes massive voter outreach and social media programmes, a reminder of the Sena’s history, and a fallback on popular speeches of the late party founder Bal Thackeray.
The office-bearer said, "To make voters aware of the new symbol, our poll machinery from shakhas and vibhags will step up their outreach to voters and work tirelessly. As party president Uddhav Thackeray said, Shiv Sainiks will contest the BMC as their first election with the resolve to win.”
The move assumes importance as members of the Shinde camp have been claiming to be the real Sena and the true claimants to the electoral symbol.
The office-bearer said Plan B also consists of a comprehensive strategy to activate booth-level cadre to take the party’s programmes, policies and achievements to voters. Thackeray has already increased interactions with shakha and vibhag pramukhs to strengthen the party.
“Shiv Sainiks will recall the efforts made by party supremo Balasaheb to increase its presence among Mumbaikars and how the party played a key role to help them in all crises, be it floods, communal riots or serial bomb blasts and terror attacks,” the party leader said. “The message will be that the party will weather this crisis, too, and voters will be urged to stay with it.”
Further, the Thackeray camp will launch aggressive online and offline campaigns to take the new symbol to voters. It has already put in place a dedicated team to run its social media campaigns.
“The idea is to convince voters that the Thackeray-led faction is genuine while the others committed treachery for power,” another party leader said after meeting Thackeray.
The camp also proposes to aggressively play up the Marathi Manoos and Hindutva cards to take on Chief Minister Shinde and the BJP in particular by making Bal Thackeray’s speeches viral on social media to drive home its point.