Mumbai: The 2012 Mumbai civic body election is being seen as a do-or-die election for the Shiv Sena and its executive president Uddhav Thackeray. With the Sena-BJP combine worried about the MNS factor, the question is - will tying up with the pro-Dalit RPI help bail out the Sena?With the Congress and NCP announcing an alliance for the Mumbai corporation polls for the first time, the Shiv Sena-BJP combine will have much to be worried about, with the MNS also expected to be a significant player this time.
The NCP will contest 58 of the 227 polled seats in the BMC, while the Congress will contest in 169 seats. In 2007, the alliance had broken down over one seat. But their unity in 2012 could spell trouble for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine that has ruled the country's richest civic body for 17 years now.
"If you look at the numbers now that we're contesting together, we will definitely gain a majority," said Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Perhaps, recognising the fact that the BMC is the Sena's last bastion, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray prostrated in front of his party workers on Tuesday.
The Shiv Sena suffered a huge setback in the 2009 Assembly elections, where the MNS split the Marathi votebank and many predict that Raj Thackeray could now emerge as not just a spoiler but a kingmaker.
What the Sena would be banking on is the much hyped mahayuti - the SS-BJP's alliance with the Republican Party of India (RPI), a party that has traditionally allied with the Congress and NCP.
The RPI's exit may hurt the Congress-NCP alliance, but recent council elections have shown that joining hands with the RPI has not exactly helped the saffron alliance. This is also the first election where 50 per cent seats will be reserved for women. With the variety of different factors at play, the Mumbai civic election is going to be a tough one to call.