<p>The Shiv Sena — after successive defeats in assembly and parliamentary elections since 1999 — regained ground in its home turf of Mumbai as it emerged the leader in the elections to the 227-seat BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.
As for Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Raj Thackeray-led party did succeed in luring Marathi Manoos, especially young voters and those disgruntled with the Sena. His anti-north Indian campaign seemed to have gotten it takers, as the MNS improved its performance by winning 29 seats. Raj has also succeeded in convincing Mumbaikars that voting for him does not mean voting for the Congress. He would certainly use his clout to further consolidate his position ahead of the 2014 assembly elections.
The Sena-BJP alliance’s gamble ahead of the civic polls to accommodate Republican Party of India has paid off as the combine succeeded in luring Dalit votes, which were traditionally tapped by the Congress.
The Shiv Sena won 77 seats, BJP 32, and RPI 1. The MNS landed 28 seats. The Congress won 51 and its ally the NCP 14.
The Sena-BJP-RPI front, which will now rule the country’s richest civic body for the next five years will have much to do on the administrative front: It will have to expedite the much-needed upgrade of the city’s infrastructure — all-weather roads, assured water supply and improved health and education.
Other priorities include an increase in revenue collection and prudent use of funds.
Then there are annual audit of accounts and exploring avenues to mop up additional revenue even by exploring an option of bond issue.
Then, the new civic body needs to coordinate with agencies like Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation for hassle-free implementation of various developmental projects to transform Mumbai as a leading international city.
Both the Marathi Manoos and non-Maharashtrians as well showed once again their faith and confidence in the leadership of the Sena for being their protector of sorts in difficult times. On its part, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance fell victim to intra-party feud, lack of coordination and failure to reach out to traditional voters such as dalits, minorities and migrants. Also, both parties in the alliance received a major backlash for giving tickets to relatives and supporters neglecting the genuine party workers.
Both the Congress and the NCP, who had contested civic body elections in alliance for the first time, had made it a prestige issue, but they miserably failed to put their act together.
Further, what has come to handy for the Sena in particular was the emotional call given by its supremo Bal Thackeray at two rallies he addressed — in the city and the adjoining Thane. The octogenarian had criticised the Congress-NCP alliance as “unholy” and “opportunistic”, while recalling his 1966-founded party’s services in times of crises like communal riots, serial bomb blasts and the 26/11 terror attack. More importantly, from Marathi-speaking government employees to managers in MNCs, sharp reactions came against state Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s statement that the Sena and Thackeray would become inconsequential and insignificant after the Mumbai civic polls.
The Congress-NCP combine’s repeated attempts to paint the Sena-BJP alliance in the wrong box over charges of rampant corruption failed to yield positive results.
The duo’s announcement to inquire into alleged corruption of Rs 40,000-crore during the saffron front’s 16-year rule failed to work. What’s more, the Sena retaliated by inserting full-page advertisements in national dailies detailing a series of corruption and mega scams that were unearthed during the UPA rule in the country.