BJP Has More Cards In Its Hand Than Uddhav Has In Maha BMC Showdown

Analusing the loopholes in the Maharashtra mayhem crisis

Large audiences during Dussehra rallies held by Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray factions served as a teaser for the main event, the BMC elections. It is estimated that Shinde has the backing of 40 or more MLAs and more than a dozen MPs. How much influence does he actually have on the cadre, though? Shinde needed to demonstrate his credibility by performing well in Mumbai, which is considered Thackeray territory.

Now the two camps can only hope they score well in the only test that matters: the polls. In 2017, Shiv Sena narrowly defeated the BJP for control of BMC, with a final score of 84 to 82. That was proof of how far the BJP had come in Mumbai. The Sena’s internal strife may have given the BJP a greater opportunity to seize control of India’s wealthiest local government.

Given that Shinde’s base of support is in nearby Thane, his Sena group could be content to play second fiddle to the BJP in Mumbai. On the other hand, if the BJP gave in too easily to Shinde, it would lend credence to Uddhav’s claim that Sena is being marginalised under Shinde’s leadership. While Congress and NCP are not major political forces in Mumbai, Uddhav will need all the help he can get.

The fate of the two Senas if any of them receives the party’s distinctive bow and arrow emblem or if EC permanently freezes the symbol is a major open question. The state-wide activity may be seen as a type of mid-term evaluation of the two fronts, since several urban civic bodies, like Pune, Thane, Nashik, Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombivli, etc., are also poll-bound.

The BJP-Shinde administration has a good chance of completing its time in office, but only if Shinde can get the Sena’s support into the coalition. Even if the MVA implodes, BJP may have to rethink its 2024 agenda.