Shiv Sena Wins Civic Polls It Contested Separately From Ally BJP

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena has won the most seats in the Kalyan-Dombivali civic elections, which became a prestige battle between the party and its ally, the BJP, after they decided to contest separately.

The Sena has won 52 seats, the BJP 41 and the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Raj Thackeray’s MNS have had to settle for seats in single digits.

The contest exposed the high level of toxicity between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. The campaign was shrill and bitter, with a dramatic denouement that saw Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray threatening to pull out of the alliance last week.

That was after a Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, a minister in the Maharashtra government of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP, offered to resign, alleging that the partner has been “humiliating” Sena workers.

Uddhav Thackeray did not accept the resignation, but said, “If the government becomes arrogant, we will resign all together. Eknath Shinde will not resign alone.”

“Drama,” said Chief Minister Fadnavis, whose leadership was tested by the Kalyan-Dombivali civic elections as he fought his own ally in its stronghold. The 44-year-old Chief Minister campaigned extensively pitching the Smart City project to Kalyan-Dombivali.

The Shiv Sena’s announcement last month that it would contest all 122 seats on its own was seen as a decision to test the ground for a severance of the decades-old alliance before crucial Mumbai local body elections to be held in 2017.

The two parties are allies both at the Centre and in Maharashtra, where the Shiv Sena helps the BJP make up numbers for a majority in the assembly. In assembly elections last year, the BJP won the most seats, 122, in the 288-member Maharashtra house, 23 short of a majority.

The Shiv Sena came in a poor second with 63 seats, a huge blow for the party, which had so far been the senior partner in the alliance. The role reversal has been tough for the Sena to live down, and though it joined the state government, the relationship has been very strained since.

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