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The Congress losing civic polls in Mumbai and Pune…a portent for the future

February 2, 2007
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It looks like a combination of strong-arm tactics, bribes, wooing and the dissatisfaction of the people with the present Congress set-up has made the Shiv SenaBJP combine grab a lead in the Mumbai and Thane civic elections. They are sweeping the polls in Nashik too. They have not won yet, but all indications are that they will – unless something miraculous happens. Somehow we all thought they would lose, that was the media impression created after Raj Thackeray and Narayan Rane deserted their parties.

The fact that these two parties, which are not seen as ‘secular’ by the rest of India are on a winning spree, even if it is in the civic elections, makes one uneasy. The Shiv Sena is widely percieved to be anti-Muslim and also against migrants from the other states in India. Of late however, the leader of the Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray, has been trying to placate the north Indians. It looks like his strategy is working! Well, at least that is what I am sure they believe. I feel however that if they win these elections, it will be more to do with a negative voting against the Congress rather than a positive vote in favour of the Sena. And also the fact that the Congress and NCP are contesting separately has split the vote…

But there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the Congress (state government). It was seen to perform pathetically, specially during the July 26th Mumbai floods. Infrastructure broke down completely and people were stranded for several days in their cars. If there was no crime or break down in the law and order situation it was purely because of the decency of the average Mumbaikars who helped each other in the time of need.

However in other towns like Pune and Nashik, the BJP is doing well, and retaining power. The Congress was terribly mistaken if they thought that the SS and BJP were on a losing spree.

The Congress will feel the pinch the most in Mumbai as the BMC is rich. In any case losing Mumbai is a loss of face for the Congress because they were so sure they would win this time.

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