While the chief minister seems to be leaning towards keeping the alliance with the Shiv Sena intact, Mumbai leaders have made it clear that they want to contest the February 2017 civic polls alone
The BJP is determined to sweep the BMC elections next year, with or without Shiv Sena. So much so, that the party is already going to the polls, just so it can select the right candidates. For the first time, BJP is preparing to field contestants from all 227 seats, which is why it has roped in third-party auditors to carry out polls or surveys at each ward to assess its best chances of winning.
BMC polls take place in 2017. File pic
The Sena-BJP alliance has been in power in BMC since 15 years. Now, despite the rocky partnership with Sena in the state government, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is still pushing for an alliance for the upcoming BMC polls.
However, since its success in the 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP has become more ambitious, and many leaders want to reign over the BMC without Sena’s support. In fact, in the state elections, the BJP had won 15 Assembly constituencies, while Sena won two less.
However, in Mumbai, the BJP is at a distinct disadvantage without the Sena’s grassroots reach, particularly because it will be contesting from many of the wards for the first time and simply because it doesn’t have the same local presence. Several candidates are also likely to be first-timers. “This time, the party will also try to field more young candidates, so that in the future, the same people have a better chance of contesting again,” said a BJP leader in the BMC.
This is why, the party has now asked third-party auditors to carry out detailed surveys across each of the 227 sub-wards across the city. The survey will be much like a popularity poll, wherein experts will attempt to determine which candidate is more likely to win the most votes from a particular area. Candidates will only get tickets if the report recommends them as the best bet for the party.
A senior BJP leader in BMC said, “The auditors will carry out the survey in all electoral wards to gauge the party’s presence and also give us an idea about our chances of winning from each ward.”
“The Sena has a very strong base among Marathi voters since their shakhas (local units in every ward) have helped them create an emotional connect with the masses. We are trying every possible way to create a similar confidence about the BJP among people,” said another leader. Another way the BJP hopes to achieve this is by fielding more Marathi-speaking leaders from within the party, as well as other leaders poached from parties such as the MNS.
New election equation
BJP spokesperson in BMC, Bhalchandra Shirshat, said, “After the delimitation of electoral wards, the equation has changed. Senior party leaders are overseeing the preparation and, at every level, each and every candidate will be assessed properly before they are given the opportunity to contest the election.”
Total number of seats in the BMC; for the first time, BJP will contest for all
Number of seats BJP won in the 2012 polls out of the 60 seats contested
Number of seats BJP will be contesting from for the first time in 2017