BJP’s surge in Maharashtra civic polls is likely to change the political equations in the state
The civic election results could well have long term implications in Maharashtra’s politics, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doing dramatically well and the Shiv Sena failing to get a simple majority.
The Shiv Sena won 84 seats, while the BJP bagged 82 seats. There are 227 seats in the BMC and none of the parties were close to the the halfway mark of 114.
“The Marathi working class was thrown into oblivion around 1982 with labour union strike and lost its political clout. Marathi people did not have control over major resources of city. This was also the beginning of decline of Marathi ‘Manoos’ in Mumbai” says, Dr Aruna Pendse, retired professor, department of civics and politics, University of Mumbai.
“SS (Shiv Sena) did not do much for the Marathi people. Girgaum, which earlier was a major Marathi hub, today has major ‘padwas’ (1st day of Marathi calendar) being organised separately by both SS and BJP. Marathi people are now shifting from south Mumbai areas to northern suburbs like Vasai -Virar and Bhayander or Dombivali in eastern suburbs as against Parle and Andheri earlier. With redevelopment of chawl’s now, Marathi people are not able to sustain their hold in these area as they cannot afford (to live in) in high rises where Gujaratis, Marwadis and to some extent Punjabis are settling in a major way. With the changing demographic profile of south Mumbai, Marathi people are getting scared and this hurts them as they feel they are losing Mumbai for which they fought. This is also the reason why BJP is gaining and they are managing to expand their own network.”
Marathi speaking people constituted 30-35 percent of the population earlier, whereas now it is 25 -26% or less. There has been a substantial increase of migrants and Hindi speaking people. Despite Sena’s plank of ‘hindutva’ and protecting people, Gujarati’s who earlier received help from Sena feel that they can get help from BJP .
Senior journalist Sunil Ghatade says that for the Shiv Sena, Mumbai is their home pitch and the BJP was ‘pillion riding’ the Sena. Through their alliance over the years, the BJP always called Sena its elder brother, yet suddenly after the Modi wave and 2014 elections, they stared humiliating the Shiv Sena very badly. The Shiv Sena was not invited during formation of government in Maharashtra and later denied good portfolios.
Pendse says, “The SS and BJP have been allies in the municipal corporation for a long time. The corporation, in fact is a very bad example of governance .Both imported many Congress and NCP members into their parties during civic elections . Despite ‘notebandi’ and corruption, the results were contrary to what was actually expected.”
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis single-handedly steered the campaign and it has proved advantageous to them. This may have divided the Marathi votes and united Gujarati and North Indian vote, but this needs to be studied, she adds.
“The Shiv Sena on the contrary appears to be getting limited to urban areas though it has got some prominent seats in local bodies in rural areas . Going by the record, SS may compromise and go along with BJP. If they make a compromise now, they may lose whatever credibility they have so far since people voted for SS against BJP. If BJP tries to make a compromise, it will finish as it has taken the support of SS base. This time non- Marathi voters have gone with BJP in Mumbai definitely and have been divided between BJP and some extent to Congress, says Pendse.
She adds that despite making statements, the Shiv Sena does not have bargaining power and we still don’t what type of alliance they will form. It is not in a position to vanquish the BJP. Had SS got 10 more seats it would have been in a better position to bargain.