Andheri East bypoll: A poll that cannot be bypassed for its impact

Andheri East bypoll: A poll that cannot be bypassed for its impact

Many by-elections go unnoticed, some create history. Mumbai has been a part of such elections, one of which gave the United Shiv Sena the first elected member of the state assembly 52 years ago. The Andheri East bypolls necessitated by the demise of its MLA is set to write another chapter for the Shiv Sena, which is now split into two warring groups that are testing the choppy waters for the first time since Partition. On one side is Uddhav Thackeray, the son of the party’s founder, who is supported by the Congress and the Left, and on the other is the Bharatiya Janata Party, assisted by a wing of the Shiv Sena headed by Uddhav. As well as his father’s former General Eknath Shinde.

Table of Contents

Regional pride in sport

The contest is not just between party leaders, who have come out to shape each other, but between the grassroots roots of the parties and the electorate. Voters come from various regional and ethnic groups that have been influencing the mandate. Caste politics in Mumbai doesn’t matter as much as it does outside. Here, regional pride speaks for itself and is invoked by stakeholders when the opportunity arises. Therefore, it becomes appropriate for parties to influence large voter blocks like Marathis, North Indians and Gujaratis, who have a presence everywhere with varying influence. Andheri East has a sizable number of Marathi, North Indian and Gujarati voters – in that order – who will choose between the Thackeray Sena and the BJP.

number game

Since the Congress party has backed the Thackeray Sena, its share of around 28,000 votes, including Muslims, in 2019 will be decisive to swing the result. The Congress fielded non-Marathis for several positions (before and after delimitation) but lost twice in 2014 and 2019, reducing its vote share to 28,000 in 10 years. Shiv Sena’s Marathi Manus Ramesh Latke lost once in 2009 (in agreement with the BJP), but has since won twice – first without the BJP in 2014, and then with the BJP in 2019. However, BJP’s current candidate Murji Patel revolted in 2019 and came second with 45,808 votes as against 62,733 of the Unified Army. Still, the Unified Sena increased its vote count by 10,000 in 2019, as not all BJP sympathizers voted for the rebel, which was earlier with the Congress; And MNS was not in the competition in which she had participated twice earlier. In Shiv Sena’s two victories, the BJP fielded a non-Marathi, officially in 2014 (Sunil Yadav who achieved more than Murji’s 2019 count) and unofficially in the next (Murji). MNS has not fielded its candidate in the by-election, but Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi has. The BJP again established a non-Marathi, knowing full well that the Thackeray faction had made it an election issue, alleging that the ruling party was solely responsible for its division.

empathy vs structure

In the October 1970 by-election, which gave the Shiv Sena its first legislator, the CPI had fielded the widow of Krisha Desai, the then Parel MLA and trade union leader, who was assassinated earlier that year. But, in a close contest, the CPI lost to the Shiv Sena despite a sympathetic wave, which the old-timers say it certainly was then. It was a battle for supremacy in trade union politics, after which Shiv Sena did not look back. Decades later, it is a stark contrast. The CPI has promised support to Thackeray in the contest, relying on sympathy for the efforts made by the late Balasaheb’s son Ramesh’s widow, Rutuja Latte, and especially by constituents of the Congress’ Maha Vikas Aghadi. To counter this, the BJP will use its well-constructed structure against sympathizers. The organizational effort of the BJP had come into play long before the announcement of the election schedule. It has been well ahead of its rivals and ally Shinde Sena, who have been fighting over party ownership and symbol. The BJP knew that Thackeray had a competitive candidate and was sure that Shinde would have to back down as he did not have a strong candidate. The Thackeray faction has alleged that Shinde tried to entice the widow to join them. It has also accused the CM and the BJP of obstructing the process of his resignation, which is expected to be used in the campaign.

past imperfect, future tense

The past is being revived, especially with Thackeray joining the Congress. The former CM and his friends in other parties, some of whom had left the Shiv Sena in a shocking manner, are recalling that for the late Shiv Sena founder, the Congress was not a ‘party non-great’. They have been turning the pages of history to establish, secretly and openly, Balasaheb’s alliance with the Congress of the past. He says that the present Congress can be an ideal political ally to defeat the BJP. The Andheri East result, considering which side it stands for, will certainly affect the Shiv Sena factions and the BJP, which are gearing up for a big fight in the BMC and other local bodies in the rest of Maharashtra.

Dharmendra Jore is the political editor of Mid-Day. He tweeted @dharmendrajore
Send your feedback to



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here