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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: A perfect 10 at stake

Updated on: 18 May,2024 06:55 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

BJP goes all out to woo voters as Shinde and Thackeray Sena fight for originality in MMR

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: A perfect 10 at stake

Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray. Pic/Ashish Raje; (right) Shiv Sena chief Eknath Shinde

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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: A perfect 10 at stake

Dharmendra JoreThe fifth and last phase of polling on May 20 will be the litmus test for Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde. Ten seats in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR)—six in Mumbai and four in Thane and Palghar districts)—will determine the originality of the respective factions of Shiv Sena that are fighting against each other in most places in MMR. Shiv Sena was founded in Mumbai and expanded to MMR to soon bear the fruits of power. Under Bal Thackeray, it spread out to the hinterlands, gaining power for the first time in 1995 in association with the BJP. They retained power in 2014, but unlike in 1995, the Sena could not install its CM. The pre-poll alliance had come to an end ahead of the Assembly elections, creating an opportunity for the BJP to contest solo, and emerge as the single-largest party in the wake of Narendra Modi’s anointment as the PM. The BJP made its first-ever CM in 2014. The undivided Sena joined the state government a month later. They won a majority in 2019, but in a pre-poll alliance. What happened next is history.

BJP’s progress

Between 2014 and 2019, the BJP had been able to make inroads in Mumbai. It almost beat the undivided Sena in the 2017 BMC polls and re-emerged as the largest party in the 2019 polls, not only in the state but also in Mumbai. Post 2019 elections, things have changed altogether. The BJP is still there, undivided but swollen with the induction of many top leaders from other parties. The Sena is split; so is the NCP. 

In MMR, the BJP and undivided Sena had won all 10 seats in 2019. The BJP had less than the Sena because of seat-sharing. Apart from Mumbai’s three winners, the BJP had Bhiwandi. The Sena had won three each in Mumbai and Thane-Palghar. This time, the BJP is contesting Palghar, in addition to Bhiwandi, making it five each in MMR for the partners.

Test for Senas

Thackeray’s Sena is leading the Opposition’s charge. Out of 10 seats, the Congress is contesting two and NCP (Sharad Pawar) one. Thackeray’s seven—four in Mumbai and three in Thane-Palghar—are an indication that the MVA partners have recognised the UBT’s dominance here. The Thackeray and Shinde Senas are pitted against each other in most places in MMR. Thackeray has gone to the voters to prove his mettle, seeking whatever help the allies offer him. Apart from the sympathy factor, Thackeray relies heavily on Muslim voters. The MVA expects a 360-degree change in the Muslim voting pattern, predicting the community’s wholehearted support of Thackeray’s anti-Modi stand. It means that MVA expects Muslims to compensate for the Uddhav Sena’s loss of vote share because of the party split and disassociation from the BJP.
On the other hand, the BJP and Shinde Sena are sure that MMR continues to love Modi and will vote liberally to make him PM yet again. Modi visited Mumbai twice in three days this week. The city and MMR responded well to his roadshow in Ghatkopar and rally at Shivaji Park.

They expected the Shivaji Park rally of PM Narendra Modi and MNS president Raj Thackeray to neutralise the Marathi-Gujarati conflict that had surfaced during the poll campaign. NDA considers Marathi voters, along with other Hindu voters, as their tool to beat Thackeray Sena and Congress. The premise for their strong hope is Thackeray’s newfound love for Muslims, which they say is the betrayal of Bal Thackeray’s ideology that had no place for ‘Muslim appeasement’. Hence, they say they hope strongly for a perfect ten, yet again in MMR.  

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore. Send your feedback to

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