Mumbai, 7th November 2022: The by-election in the Andheri East assembly seat has just ended, and the issue of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections has started resonating. Although the election dates have not been announced yet, the Bharatiya Janata Party has announced that the next mayor in BMC will be from the party itself. Notably, Shiv Sena has had control over BMC for almost three decades.
On Sunday, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar and MP from Mumbai North Central Poonam Mahajan started the campaign from Government Colony Ground in Bandra. This place is a short distance from Matoshree, the residence of Uddhav Thackeray. According to media reports, BJP leaders say it is a direct message to Uddhav. On this occasion, Shelar targeted former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and accused him of corruption.
Shelar said about Uddhav, “Take whose votes you want, neither Marathi nor Muslim will vote for you. But our question is why such a time has come that you have to ask for votes on caste and religious issues. You (Shiv Sena) have been in control of BMC for more than 25 years, haven’t you? So why are you not asking for votes based on the work you have done?”
The Shiv Sena had split after Eknath Shinde’s rebellion in June. After this, the government of Mahavikas Aghadi also fell from the state. In such a situation, the BJP is confident that the help of the Shinde-led Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena can be beneficial in the BMC elections. In 2017, Shiv Sena won 84 seats out of 227. Whereas, BJP was second with 82 seats.
In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ mentions the Marathi Muslim Seva Sangh and the Bilkis Bano case. Shelar says, “The Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Party wants to garner Marathi and Muslim votes, but they have cleverly called them Marathi Muslims.” Statistics show that the Muslim population in Mumbai is 21 per cent. Whereas, Marathi speakers are 30 per cent.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) spokesperson Dr Manisha Kayande says the party has never been against Muslims. He said, “If you see the old speeches of Balasaheb Thackeray, you will find that he did not dislike them (Muslims). If the RSS chief can go to the mosque and woo Muslims, why can’t we?”
However, she also describes the BMC election as a difficult task after the split in Shiv Sena. Here, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who visited Mumbai in September, has also set a target. He has set a target of 150 seats for the BJP in BMC.