As the results of the hotly contested Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections continue to trickle in, one cannot help overlook the fact that the BJP has gained tremendously. Minus the BJP’s enthusiasm and zeal to win, the GHMC elections would have appeared as a footnote in newspapers, but the party decided to go full throttle and hence, the municipal elections grabbed national headlines. The results of the GHMC elections will surely make the Thackerays uneasy as next up are the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections and if the GHMC polls are anything to go by, the BJP will leave no stone unturned to unseat Shiv Sena from the BMC.
At the time of writing, the BJP is leading in 47 wards, TRS in 59, AIMIM 42 and Congress on 2 wards out of the 150 wards in the GHMC elections. While the TRS will likely install a mayor from its party by forging a post-poll alliance with the AIMIM, the BJP’s rise is for everyone to see. In 2016, the BJP had secured a paltry 4 wards that too in an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party, with the TRS romping home by winning 99 wards.
Despite the TRS’s best attempts to sabotage the BJP’s preparations by hastening the poll dates, the BJP went all guns blazing with Bhupender Yadav being parachuted to Hyderabad fresh from help-ing the NDA retained Bihar. Tejaswi Surya, Smriti Irani, Yogi Adityanath and Amit Shah all campaigned in Hyderabad as the BJP saw its seat share rise from 4 to 47 in a state where the party has little presence.
If the GHMC polls are any indication, the party will ensure that the BMC elections are also hotly contested especially in light of the backstabbing by its former ally Shiv Sena. The Maharashtra BJP is like a wounded tiger and is baying for Shiv Sena’s blood in the BMC — which is the crown jeans the chief funding source of the Shiv Sena.
Unlike Hyderabad where the BJP had little presence, the party is on a strong footing in Mumbai. The BJP-Sena in 2017, who at that time was in an alliance in the then Fadnavis government, didn’t fight the BMC elections together as Sena only agreed to give only a handful of seats to the BJP to ensure that the latter remains as a junior partner in BMC, having lost that status in the Maharashtra government.
The Sena was expecting to romp home in the 227-member civic body but was served a rude shock as the BJP secured a whopping 82 seats with the Sena securing 86 seats. This was a watershed moment in Mumbai politics as the BJP had come close to loosen Sena’s iron grip on the city. The two warring parties then came together to come to power in the BMC thereby playing spoilsport over Sena’s dreams of ruling the BMC without the BJP’s support.
The Sena was stunned in 2017, and the BJP has only grown stronger with a beleaguered Sena will face the voters for the first time after betraying their mandate. Rest assured, the BJP will line up its star campaigners in Mumbai when the time comes and fight the elections like there’s no tomorrow.
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has already sounded the poll bugle as he recently vowed, “Shiv Sena’s bhagwa will not unfurl atop the BMC headquarters after the 2022 polls.”
While the Shiv Sena understandably wants a broad coalition with NCP and INC – the other constituents of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi, the INC has already announced its desire to go solo in the BMC elections.
Every party be it regional or national, will have alarm bells ringing by the sheer efficiency with which the BJP fought municipal polls in Hyderabad – a place where the party had a little footprint. The results would have further exacerbated the fears of the opposition parties as the BJP continues to relentlessly expand its base with seemingly the Thackerays and their BMC next in sight for the party.