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The many political battles in Maharashtra post Uddhav Thackeray’s resignation

Campus Voice is an initiative by ThePrint where young Indians get an opportunity to express their opinions on a prevalent issue.

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The tussle between the Thackerays and Eknath Shinde led to the resignation of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on 29 June this year. While the bigger battle was about who will be the next chief minister of the state, the splitting of Shiv Sena has only opened up the ground for further power tussles in the state.

In the midst of reporting this political crisis, the national media missed out on checking the hold Shiv Sena has in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Most of the important municipal corporations in MMR have already completed their tenure and will have elections once the monsoon is over. 5 out of 9 municipal corporations were ruled by BJP-Shiv Sena coalitions. But, once Shiv Sena broke out to form the MVA Alliance, BJP started to focus more on the Mumbai-Thane belt.  Shiv Sena was the only party to have ground-level system of shakhas. But, BJP has slowly crept into these local areas and now has at least one office in each ward.

Also read: Power, party, dignity, father’s legacy — what all Uddhav Thackeray is losing in Maharashtra

At the ground level, there are people who would never lose their faith in Thackeray but have to move with Shinde since the local shakha pramukh along with the Corporator has decided to do so. BJP has grown a lot in MMR once they were out of coalition with Shiv Sena and many local leaders are preparing for the upcoming municipal corporation elections.

On the other hand, there is no chance that more than 50 per cent corporators in these regions will stick with Uddhav Thackeray. Many are convinced that the future of Shiv Sena will be better in Eknath Shinde’s camp. While the local BJP leaders who have built a base would also definitely expect a ticket which could lead to a clash at the local level. BJP made Eknath Shinde chief minister to ensure that the Thackerays political careers are over. But, they have to make sure that the local talent they have doesn’t rebel. It will be a test of the organisational capabilities of Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis who will decide the distribution of tickets among the corporators. While Shinde & BJP are seeming to win this battle, Thackeray will definitely put up a fight on his soil where Shiv Sena is strongest. We still don’t know the mood of the local Shivsainiks who have always voted for Sena.

These upcoming elections are going to tell a lot about what lies ahead for the future of Shiv Sena as a party. In my opinion, its downfall is bound to happen. If Shiv Sena sides with Uddhav, BJP will continue to eat into its voter base, and if it moves to Eknath Shinde, he would slowly be undermined in this coalition and find it difficult to stay relevant once his tenure of 2.5 years is over. BJP will use its influence at the local level to capture the Municipal Corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and develop its own base.

It will take some time for the future of Shiv Sena to become clearer. We have to wait and watch out for the upcoming elections.

The author is a student at IIT, Indore. Views are personal

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