Uddhav is put to the test in a historic Maharashtra stronghold

Uddhav Thackeray’s exam is the most important one in Maharashtra’s fifth and final round on May 20. Which Sena, that of Uddhav or CM Eknath Shinde, is genuine will be revealed by the outcome.

The following 13 seats have voting deadlines: Thane, Dhule, Dindori, Nashik, Kalyan, Palghar, Bhiwandi, and Mumbai North, North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-Central, and South. Up to 264 contenders from various parties are competing. There are 2,46,69,544 voters (31,38,526 men, 1,15,28,278 women, and 2,740 members of the third gender).

In Mumbai, the BJP and Shiv Sena each hold three of the six seats. Retaining Dhule, Dindori, Kalyan, Palghar, Bhiwandi, and three from Mumbai has been difficult for the BJP.

Since most of the seats are in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, where Thackeray and Shinde are fighting to hold onto their support base in order to emerge, the fifth phase will really test Uddhav’s leadership.

Shinde faces more opposition in trying to hold onto its stronghold of Kalyan, where his son Dr. Shrikant Shinde is running, and from Thane, Shinde’s hometown, his close aide Naresh Mhaske is running. After much searching, Shinde finally put forth the divisive Yamini Jadhav for South Mumbai and Ravindra Waikar for Mumbai North West. Prior to the elections, Jadhav and Waikar defected from the Uddhav camp to the Shinde-led Sena, putting them both under investigation by federal authorities.

Along with key party officials, several Shiv Sena MLAs from rural Maharashtra abandoned Uddhav, while the majority of Mumbai MLAs and corporators chose to stick with him through the political mudslinging and power struggle.

In order to demonstrate his control over Mumbai and the surrounding area, Uddhav is trying to strengthen his Marathi manoos vote bank in addition to minority votes and a break in the lower caste voters of North India.

The Hindutva philosophy of Shiv Sena prevented minorities, especially Muslims, from voting for him. According to one observer, Uddhav changed the party’s philosophy and leaned toward a “inclusive Hindutva” that was acceptable to minorities after seizing power with the NCP and Congress.

Uddhav is attempting to create a strong “Mamu” (Marathi + minority) or M2 factor in opposition to the BJP and its supporters. However, with the support of MNS head Raj Thackeray, the BJP is depending on Gujarati, Marwari, and North Indians to split the Marathi manoos chunk. The observer said, “They aim to split the Marathi vote bank so they can repeat the 2014–2019 total without Uddhav.

He warned that taking support from Raj may backfire for the BJP. “Most Mumbai-based North Indians support the BJP, but they object to the BJP’s alliance with the Raj. The cause is that MNS employees attacked North Indians, claiming they were encroaching on their territory and stealing Marathis’ employment. On May 17, Modi and Raj are expected to speak in a combined rally at Shivaji Park.

Marathis make up 28–30% of the population of Mumbai, but Muslims and Christians make up more than 18%. Uddhav is very certain to win and will get the same number of seats as he did in the last Lok Sabha elections if he can secure a majority of M2.

In an attempt to strengthen the Marathi voting base against the BJP, the Shiv Sena (UBT) is also attempting to infuse the Marathi against the Gujarati divide. A simmering issue in Mumbai gained fuel from two recent instances.

Shiv Sena (UBT) volunteers were denied admission by a Gujarati-dominated housing society in the Ghatkopar area of Mumbai, despite having authorization from the relevant authorities to campaign. The Shiv Sena (UBT) moved quickly, claiming that Mumbai was off-limits to Marathis. The episode increased the Marathis’ sense of unease as well. In addition, a Girgaum-based company published a notice requesting that Marathis refrain from applying. The fact that an advertising in Mumbai could bring up such a subject has sparked a stir in Marathi and political circles.

Gujaratis in Mumbai are thought to be BJP supporters, and they have a small population in the eastern and western suburbs. Both Union Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi hail from Gujarat. Gujarati voters thus have a natural affinity with the BJP and its leaders. Ghatkopar hosted PM Modi’s roadshow as well. Gujaratis formerly supported the Congress in Mumbai. Although they have never been Shiv Sena voters, Sena (UBT) hopes to exploit them to increase the size of its support base.

The biggest onion market in Asia, Lasalgaon, is situated in the Nasik-Dhule area, where the BJP is also encountering hostility from onion growers. During her campaign, Union Minister of State Bharati Pawar encountered the fury of onion growers due to the decline in prices.

Certain onion growers attempted to cause a disturbance during the PM Modi event that took place in Nasik. The farmers were subsequently reassured by PM Modi that his administration is making every effort to assist them.

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