BMC Election 2017: Blame Shiv Sena-BJP acrimony for a predictably fragmented mandate, no clear majority

The percentage of votes cast in the BMC polls on Tuesday indicates that there may not be any drastic change in the leadership of the civic body, though there is a strong possibility of a fragmented mandate.

Considering the awareness campaign launched by the Maharashtra election commission, as well as other agencies to motivate voters in Mumbai to come out and cast their vote, failed to mobilise the citizens. The major chunk of voters who turned up to cast their votes continued to be the usual voters from slums, chawls and working class localities. These voters are in constant need of corporators to solve their day-to-day problems — many connected with the BMC. These include water supply, garbage clearance, encroachments, hawkers, health facilities, markets, community halls, and schools. Besides, voters in such localities have a bonding with local corporators in celebrating festivals or organising games or cultural activities.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

In sharp contrast, voters living in higher middle class localities, residential townships and skyscrapers are the ones who usually refrain from casting their votes as they neither face the problems faced by slum or chawl dwellers and do not feel the need for the local corporator. Over the past couple of civic elections in Mumbai, there have been attempts from some quarters to field candidates who are educated and would change the way the city is governed, but it has not caught up. The rich and the educated have largely remained away from contesting or voting in civic politics.

The mandate is likely to be fragmented with no party getting a clear majority. The Shiv Sena is likely to emerge as the single largest party with no clear majority, though it may improve its previous tally of 75 seats in the house of 227. The acrimony between the Sena and the ruling BJP during the poll campaign is likely to work to the advantage of the Sena as it polarised its ranks and file.

While the Sena, with its network of workers as well as sitting corporators and legislators with known faces among local people, had an edge over the BJP, the latter continued to sway Sena votes in its favour by projecting the faces of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi accompanied with a picture of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the background on its hoardings. The BJP appeared to be still banking on the Modi wave of 2014 in a highly-localised election, despite the tactical propaganda by the Sena against demonetisation.

Moreover, only the chief minister appeared to be the star campaigner, with no other known face teaming up with him to seek votes. Considering that the BJP had won just 31 seats in the last BMC polls, it is unlikely that its tally will skyrocket to secure a clear majority or even emerge as the single-largest party in a fractured mandate.

The opposition parties, which were largely relegated in the background during the election campaign, with even a large section of media, especially Marathi TV channels, focusing only on the allegations and counter-allegations flying thick and high between Sena and BJP leaders, will have an uphill task in maintain their previous tally in the BMC. Other parties like the MIM, the Samajwadi Party and the MNS will have to struggle to go beyond the double digit figure.

In a fragmented House, the mainstream opposition parties and smaller parties may attempt to play the kingmaker/s, but considering that the Sena and the BJP are Hindutva partners who have kept their alliance in the state and central governments intact amid their acrimony, a post-poll saffron alliance is possible unless the Sena chooses to align with the opposition parties, with the BJP sitting in the opposition (which will also serve the saffron purpose and the agenda of a Congress-mukt Bharat).


Published Date: Feb 22, 2017 09:20 am | Updated Date: Feb 22, 2017 09:20 am


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