Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Get ready for the final assault

17 May,2024 04:56 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Dharmendra Jore

Mumbai’s Marathi manoos, a longstanding electoral force, are set to influence the city’s fate on June 4 as divided factions of the Shiv Sena vie for voter favour

Locals during the Marathi New Year in Mumbai. File pic

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In Mumbai, the Marathi manoos, despite their depleting numbers, have remained a deciding factor in elections. It has been seen that the sons of the soil have not ganged up for or against one particular party or alliance, but a significant number of votes have gone to the saffron pact which comprised undivided Shiv Sena till 2019. But now divided and distributed between the ruling and Opposition benches, the two factions of the Sena will actually experience the voters' favouritism on June 4, the result day.

In Mumbai's three seats, the Sena splinters are in a straight fight. In the remaining three, the BJP faces Congress in two, and Sena (UBT) in one. In Mumbai, regionalism worked for many years. Later, one more factor, the religious divide, was added to the political arsenal. Obviously, the city has the highest number of Marathi-speaking voters with an average of 38 per cent, followed by 19 per cent Muslims including locals and migrants. North Indians (17 per cent), Gujarati/Rajasthani (15 per cent), South Indians (7 per cent), Christians (3 per cent) and others (2 per cent) complete the order.

In this context, Friday's mega rallies - one to be addressed together by PM Narendra Modi and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, and the other to be participated by the MVA leaders, Sena (UBT)'s Uddhav Thackeray, NCP-SP's Sharad Pawar and Congress's senior leaders. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal may join the Opposition at BKC ground.

Raj Thackeray's association with the NDA in 2024 was preceded by his strong criticism of the rulers in 2019. He said he has joined the task for PM Modi alone. He has campaigned for NDA candidates in Thane and Sindhudurg. But his real test will be in Mumbai where he is seen as a magnet for the Marathi crowd that likes to compare him with cousin Uddhav. Likewise, in Friday's Shivaji Park rally, the sons of soil will be looking forward to Raj for weighing him against Uddhav, the MVA's highest stakeholder in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra. Raj's party MNS is not contesting the Lok Sabha polls.

And to negate a bad feeling the BJP's traditional supporters - the migrants from cow belt and Gujaratis were supposed to have harboured because of Raj's participation in NDA, PM Modi is expected to administer an antidote.

On the other side, MVA partners will be pushing hard a narrative they have used effectively in the past four phases of polling.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore
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