No clear winner in Sena vs Sena battle. Over to assembly polls now

This is the first election after the party split in 2022.

WrittenBy:Tanishka Sodhi
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Dance, firecrackers, sloganeering, gulaal, and dime a dozen media interviews – Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena Bhavan in Mumbai’s Dadar was a sight to behold today, even early in the afternoon, before leads were cemented. 

In contrast, the Eknath Shinde Shiv Sena headquarters at Nariman Point was mostly quiet, except for the sound of a Marathi channel airing on television. Party workers said there were more people at the office in the morning, but the “celebrations haven't started yet.”

This is the first election after the Shiv Sena split into two factions in June 2022. But both the parties have equal reasons to celebrate and to mourn. The Shiv Sena Udhhav Thackeray contested on 21 seats and the Ekanth faction was in fray on 14 – out of which 13 witnessed a direct fight between the two parties. At the time of writing this report, the Eknath faction had bagged seven seats, and the UBT secured eight seats and was leading in one – still far behind the undivided Shiv Sena’s 18 seats mark of 2019. 

Meanwhile, out of the two alliances –  Maha Vikas Agadhi, consisting of the Congress, the Shiv Sena UBT, and the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, and Mahayuti, comprising the BJP, the Eknath Shinde Shiv Sena, and the Ajit Pawar NCP – the former is likely headed for a bigger victory in Maharashtra, leading in 28 seats. The Mahayuti is expected to secure 18 seats. Both the figures are far behind the BJP and the undivided Shiv Sena’s envious score of 42 out of the 48 seats.

Uddhav faction: Sympathy factor, not enough translated into votes  

The sympathy wave has been high for Uddhav Thackrey in Maharashtra after the 2022 split. But whether this would translate into vote shares was a big question. The party’s lukewarm performance in the polls have substantiated the skepticism.

Anil Desai recorded the fastest win, sealing the Mumbai South Central seat by early evening. The leader was contesting against Eknath faction’s Rahul Shewale, and won with a margin of 53,384 votes. Soon after, Desai arrived at the headquarters surrounded by his supporters, who broke into a dance and eventually sent him off in a car decked up with flowers.

In Mumbai South, two-time MP Arvind Sawant won against Eknath faction’s Yamini Jadhav with a margin of 52,673 votes. Another seat the party won against the rebel faction is western Maharashtra’s Nashik. Rajabhau Prakash Waje secured the seat against incumbent MP Godse Hemant Tukaram with a margin of 1,44,798 votes. 

In Yavatmal, Sanjay Deshmukh from Shiv Sena UBT won the seat with a margin of 94,473 against Eknath Shinde’s Rajshitai Patil. In Hingoli, Aashtrikar Bapurao won with a margin of 1,07,833 seats, defeating Baburao Kohalikar. In Shirdi, Bhausaheb Wakchaure won against Lokhande Sadashivkisan with 50,529 votes. 

Shiv Sena UBT’s secretary Suprada Phaterpekar told Newslaundry that the people voted for the UBT because they are “unhappy with the split”.

“You can now see who is the real Shiv Sena,” she said. “We are hoping we will get our name and symbol back. The public has shown they trust Uddhav Thackrey, his work during the Covid-19 has contributed a huge amount.”

Eknath Shinde faction: Official name, symbol but people’s ire  

It may seem that Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena has a lot more going for them: the faction retained the party’s official name and the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol, and the backing of the Modi government. But the sympathy wave for the Thackreys and the anger over the split in the party ostensibly stunted its tall plans.  

In Thane, which is known as Shinde’s home turf, Naresh Mhaske won with a comfortable lead of 1,94,163, defeating his former colleague UBT’s Rajan Vichare. The support for Shinde remained high with voters saying that a vote for him would mean a vote for late Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe.

Kalyan too went to Shinde, as expected. His son Shrikant Shinde won with a thumbing margin of 2,29,409 votes. 

The only seat the party won in Mumbai saw a close call. Shinde Sena’s Ravindra Waikar won by an impossibly tight margin of 48 votes in Mumbai North West. Initially, his opponent, Amol Kirtikar, won by one vote, after EVM counting. But Waikar took a lead after postal ballots, after which a revalidation process of invalid or rejected postal ballot votes took place. Waikar was in the UBT Sena until March, and after making the shift to Shinde’s Sena, he had said that he had to shift parties to “avoid going to jail” for a case against him. 

In Aurangabad, Eknath faction’s Bhumare Sandipanrao Asaram defeated incumbent AIMIM MP Imitiaaz Jaleel and UBT leader Chandrakant Khaire, winning with a margin of 1,34,650 votes. The constituency has a relatively large Muslim population at 21.25 percent, but it is likely that the vote share got split between AIMIM and UBT Sena.

Hatkanangale, close to Kolhapur, went to Eknath’s Dhairyasheel Mane, who defeated UBT’s Satya Saudkar by 13, 426 votes. In Buldhana, the party’s Jadhav Gangpatrao won with 29,476 votes, defeating UBT’s Narendra Khedekar and Shrirang Bare won against UBT’s Sanjog Bhiku by 96,615 votes in Maval.

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