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Amit Shah likely visit to Mumbai on September 5 set to raise poll pitch ahead of BMC poll

Tug-of-war between rival Shiv Sena camps over who’s to hold annual Dussehra rally intensifies


Mumbai: Union Home Minister Amit Shah likely to visit Mumbai on September 5 ahead of the high-stakes ensuing civic polls to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) disclosed here on Sunday.

Shah is expected to take part in the Ganesha festivities by visiting the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati, one of Mumbai’s oldest and most celebrated Ganesha pandal. He is also likely to attend Ganpati pujas organized by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the BJP’s Mumbai city president Ashish Shelar at their respective residences.

The real purpose of the visit, say party insiders, is to strengthen the hand of the ruling coalition of the rebel Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the upcoming BMC elections and chalk out a strategy for the same.

The cash-rich BMC is regarded as the richest civic body in Asia and has been the source of power for the Thackeray clan and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

However, following Shinde’s intra-party revolt which was abetted by the BJP under Fadnavis, the new coalition is gunning for victory in the upcoming BMC poll by unseating the Uddhav Thackeray faction.

While the Sena under the Thackeray’s has held absolute sway over the BMC for two decades, the BJP riding high on the ‘Narendra Modi wave’ had rattled its former ally (Sena) when it had snapped up 82 of the total 227 seats in the 2017 BMC poll, coming second only to the Sena’s tally of 84 seats. (The Sena’s strength later increased to 97 with the support of independents and the defection of some corporators from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena).

Meanwhile, the tug-of-war between the rival Sena factions over holding the annual Dussehra rally intensified after the Shinde faction opposed the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction’s claim to stage the rally at the iconic Shivaji Park in Dadar. The Shinde faction has argued that former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had ‘forsaken’ Hindutva ideals.

The Dussehra rally has been inextricably linked with the Thackeray family, first with late Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray for his fiery speeches and later current president Uddhav Thackeray, both usually making some important announcement in their address to the party cadre on the occasion.

On Saturday, Shiv Sena MLA and former minister Aaditya Thackeray hit out at the Shinde-Fadnavis government, alleging that authorities were not ready to accept an application from his party (Uddhav faction) to hold the annual Dussehra rally.

In response, Shinde faction leader Naresh Mhaske on Sunday said that the Uddhav Thackeray camp had ‘forsaken’ Hindutva ideals. Naresh Mhaske who is the Mayor of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) remarked, “They (Uddhav Thackeray faction) have no right to hold the Dussehra rally anymore. That right belongs to us.”


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