Shiv Sena still the first choice of Marathi manoos in Mumbai | Analysis
Among the 14 seats won by the Sena this time, in Bhandup, Magathane, Vikhroli, Jogeshwari, Dindoshi, Shivadi, Worli, Mahim — which have large pockets of Marathi population — Sena candidates won with a margin between 20,000 votes and 67,000 votes.
The results of the Maharashtra Assembly polls indicate that Shiv Sena continues to wield more influence over Marathi voters in Mumbai than other parties, including the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). An analysis of voting patterns in constituencies that have large pockets of Marathi voters revealed the Sena is still a popular choice, for reasons like its son-of-the-soil agenda, lack of other options, and insecurity in an increasingly cosmopolitan atmosphere. Experts said many Marathi voters don’t trust parties such as Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as they also woo non-Marathi voters.
Among the 14 seats won by the Sena this time, in Bhandup, Magathane, Vikhroli, Jogeshwari, Dindoshi, Shivadi, Worli, Mahim — which have large pockets of Marathi population — Sena candidates won with a margin between 20,000 votes and 67,000 votes. All eight of these seats had MNS MLAs in 2009. In Shivadi, Sena’s Ajay Chaudhari won with a margin of 39,330 votes; in Worli, Sena leader and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son, Aaditya Thackeray, won by 67,427; in Mahim, Sena’s Sadanand Sarvankar won by 18,647 votes; in Dindoshi, Sunil Prabhu won by a margin of 44,511 votes; and in Jogeshwari East, Ravindra Waikar won by 58,787 votes. In Bhandup, that had the highest voter turnout in Mumbai, Sena candidate Ramesh Korgaonkar won with a margin of 29,173 votes; in Vikhroli,Sunil Raut won by a margin of 27,841 votes; and in Magathane, Prakash Surve’s won by 49,146 votes.
In many of these constituencies, Marathi voters had the choice of voting for the MNS, but chose the Sena instead. These include the Marathi heartland of Shivadi, where MNS’s Santosh Nalawade polled 38,350 votes; Vikhroli, where Vinod Shinde got 16,042 votes; Bhandup, where Sandeep Jalgaonkar bagged 42,782 votes; and Mahim, where Sandeep Deshpande got 42,690 votes. Deepak Pawar, a senior political analyst said, “The Marathi voter still votes for the Sena, though the party is aligning more with the Hindutva agenda now, than the son-of-the-soil agenda. It is evident that seats where Sena won with a large margin is because of Marathi votes.”
According to Pawar, the Marathi voter’s first and obvious choice is the Sena not only as they identify with the party, but also due to the lack of options. “Marathi voters have always looked at BJP with some mistrust, as the party traditionally represented Gujarati voters. Congress and NCP do not have a real base in Mumbai.” He said the MNS failed to tap into Marathi votes when Sena diverted its agenda towards Hindutva. “Seats where MNS got decent votes despite a Sena winner, is because of the candidate, rather than the party’s popularity, for example, in Mahim. Sandeep Deshpande’s appearances on news shows and performance as corporator earned him popularity.”Sena also won by a considerable margin in most of the other six constituencies, which have a minority or cosmopolitan crowd. “In these seats, the Sena managed to consolidate the Marathi votes, whereas opposition votes were divided,” said Pawar.