With Maharashtra Assembly elections just months away, the political churning in the state has already begun with Shiv Sena taking the lead by organising state-wide election rallies and inducing winnable candidates to join them. In one such significant move, Shiv Sena has been successful in poaching Sachin Ahir, the Mumbai city chief and one of the most dynamic leaders left in the National Congress Party(NCP).
Maharashtra: Mumbai NCP president Sachin Ahir, joins Shiv Sena in the presence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray. pic.twitter.com/LWcP5SgUL5
— ANI (@ANI) July 25, 2019
The NCP city chief of Mumbai, Sachin Ahir is quite popular among youths and is considered as a linchpin of the party in the region in and around Mumbai. Ahir hails from Worli in Mumbai and he is believed to be very close to NCP chief Pawar. With Ahir’s induction into Shiv Sena, the party has delivered a body blow to the Sharad Pawar-led NCP which was already battered by Modi tsunami in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Ahir stated to media that Shiv Sena wants him not to be limited to Mumbai but play an active role in politics throughout the state. He even mentioned specifically that when he had joined NCP from Congress, thousands of party workers and many leaders had followed him.
Ahir met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday and announced his decision to quit the NCP during a press conference with him. Ahir was a minister when the Congress-NCP government was in power in Maharashtra from 2009-2014. In addition to Ahir, former chief minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal, who started his political career from Shiv Sena in the 1960s was also rumoured to jump the NCP ship and return back to the Shiv Sena. However, Bhujbal has denied the reports, claiming he has no immediate plans to join the Sena.
Though Sharad Pawar-led NCP went into an alliance with the Congress party for the General elections, the coalition was doomed from day 1 as many Congress and NCP cadres expressed their obstinacy in relinquishing their respective constituencies to their coalition partner. They had expressed their displeasure over the alliance modalities but their grievances were left unheeded by the party leadership.
As a result, both Congress and NCP leaders started losing their important grassroots leaders to the BJP and Shiv Sena. While the BJP managed to get former Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and his son Sujoy Patil from Congress, the Shiv Sena has scored Sachin Ahir from the NCP.
Shiv Sena, on the other hand, has shown remarkable political dexterity in luring away a leader like Ahir from NCP’s grasp. It shows that the regional party is in no mood to hand over western Maharashtra on a platter to the BJP, especially the void created following the political annihilation of the opposition parties in the Lok Sabha elections. Notwithstanding their alliance with the BJP, Sena cannot afford to let their guard down as the party is restricted by its own blinkered regional politics.
Sena seems to have shunned its archaic polity which pivoted around Marathi supremacism and embraced inorganic methods to expand its horizons and vote base. Inclusion of Ahir points in that direction. Apart from this, Ahir’s desertion might result in a double whammy for the NCP as it may act as a trigger for a flurry of other leaders who might be waiting for the opportune moment to switch over.