In the run-up to the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) elections, all eyes were on the Shiv Sena and BJP, with the parties lodged in a bitter and very public rivalry.
Uddhav and Raj in a file pic from 2005, a year before Raj launched the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena
However, it is the MNS that finds itself the centre of attention now, with neither the Sena nor the BJP winning the magic 61 seats needed for majority. With BJP-Sena relations at an all-time low, and with MNS now holding the kingmaker’s power, will the KDMC polls spell reconciliation between the estranged Thackeray cousins?
Shiv Sena members and workers celebrate their victory in the KDMC polls, in which the party won 52 seats. The Sena will now look at combining its forces with independents and other parties to attain majority. Pics/Sameer Markande
The Sena came closest to majority, with 52 seats in the bag. The BJP came second, trailing behind by 10 seats. On the other hand, the MNS took a steep fall from its existing 27 seats in the house to just 9. But these 9 seats are enough to push Sena to the finish line.
Yuva Sena leader Samadhan Sarvankar, who is also the son of Sena MLA (Mahim) Sada Sarvankar, tweeted this picture along with the caption: ‘Every Marathi person will like to see this. In Mumbai, Thane and all over Maharashtra, the saffron flag will fly high
So will Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray choose to patch up with friend-turned-foe BJP, or reconnect blood ties with MNS chief Raj Thackeray? The official Sena stance is that it will wait and watch, but if social media is any evidence, party members hope Uddhav will side with his cousin.
AIMIM supporters celebrate after the KDMC poll results are declared
Twitter is already abuzz with Sena leaders and workers posting a picture of Sena supremo Bal Thackeray with his son Uddhav and nephew Raj in happier times, before Raj split from them and formed his own party.
Yuva Sena leader Samadhan Sarvankar, who is also the son of Sena MLA (Mahim) Sada Sarvankar, had tweeted the picture along with the caption: ‘Every Marathi person will like to see this. In Mumbai, Thane and all over Maharashtra, the saffron flag will high’.
When contacted by mid-day, Samadhan said, “This is my personal view. As Maharashtrians, we want our own parties, not people who rule from Delhi.” The MNS is open to discussion with the Sena, said party spokesperson and former MLA Nitin Sardesai.
“Shiv Sena hasn’t approached us, but our doors are open for discussion if they want to talk about an alliance,” he told mid-day. A senior Sena leader also said the party was considering joining forces with the MNS.
“We are trying all methods to get enough support to place our mayor in KDMC. We won’t mind forging an alliance with MNS,” he said, adding that the party was also in talks with three independent winners.
However, on record, the Sena maintains that it will wait and watch. “We cannot say anything now. It is a wait-and-watch situation for us. Anything about an alliance will be decided by our party chief,” said Captain Abhijit Adsul, former MLA and Sena’s vibhag pramukh who handled the KDMC campaign.
Meanwhile, the BJP, despite falling short by 19 seats, is confident that it will form majority in KDMC. This election was a litmus test for both the BJP and the Sena, as they decided to contest on their own. While it failed to attain majority, the BJP has beefed up its strength in the house considerably from the existing 9 seats to 42.
Maharashtra BJP secretary Sanjay Upadhyay said, “We met the chief minister and he was beaming with happiness that we have fared so well. We will wait and watch the situation, and we will have our mayor in KDMC.” Party members claimed to have the support of 6 independent winners, taking its total up to 48.
Niranjan Shetty, BJP Mumbai’s chief spokesperson, who had also campaigned for the polls, claimed that people had doubted whether BJP would be able to place its own chief minister after the Assembly polls, but it had proved its point then. “Today we have our chief minister. The way we came to power in the state, we will come to power in KDMC too” he said.
No crackers for Sena?
With no clear majority for the Sena in the KDMC polls, celebrations have been subdued. In the afternoon, it was predicted that Sena would get 60 seats, and party chief Uddhav was also supposed to go down to Dombivli.
But when the number came down to 52, Uddhav — just about to leave Matoshree — decided to stay put instead, said sources. According to insiders, even the celebratory firecrackers were put back in their boxes.
AIMIM contested the KDMC for the first time with 7 candidates. One of them won, along with three independent candidates supported by the party. However, those three will remain independent corporators.
Shiv Sena: 52
Total number of seats: 122