Published in DNA on Saturday, Jan 7, 2012
By Surendra Gangan
How many seats will Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) win this civic election? This question is on everyone’s mind.
Ramdas Athawale tie-up with the saffron alliance is expected to prove a boon for the MNS in the city.
According to analysts, the seats allocated to the Athawale group by the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine might benefit Raj Thackeray’s party. Reason: Traditional Shiv Sena voters never bonded with or had an inclination for leaders from the dalit factions. Sena’s resistance to the naming of the Marathwada University after Dr BA Ambedkar was the talking point among leaders of the various RPI factions when Athawale joined the saffron alliance four months ago.
In this backdrop, it is likely that Sena loyalists may choose MNS over RPI candidates.
Political analyst S M Gothoskar pointed out: “Sena loyalists preferred MNS over the BJP candidate in the Kalyan-Dombivli municipal corporation elections in 2010. If these voters can defy candidates from the party that has been in alliance with the Sena for more than two decades, RPI is just a few months old in the combine. This would help either the MNS or Congress-NCP if the latter do form alliance.”
Athawale’s joining hands with the Sena has not gone down well with many dalits.
First, Shiv Sena refused to clearly support the demand for the entire 12 acres of Indu Mills land for Ambedkar memorial. Secondly, the council election results have, in no way, proved that Sena benefitted after joining hands with Athawale.
MNS legislator Nitin Sardesai is confident that his party does not require the support of “any negative kind of voting”. “MNS has built its own voter base in the city in the last five years,” he said.
If one looks at the performance of the MNS in the 2007 civic polls and 2009 assembly elections, MNS has indeed strengthened its base in Mumbai — from bagging seven seats in the civic polls and six seats in the assembly elections.