Had the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led by Raj Thackeray, performed in this election as well as it had in 2009, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance would not have drawn a blank in the city. The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance won all six seats in the city.
In 2009, the MNS got over a lakh votes in each of the six constituencies, denting the Shiv Sena’s vote bank and thus helping the Congress-NCP combine indirectly. But the party suffered ignominy this time with all three of its candidates losing their deposits and could barely manage to cobble 2.2-lakh votes together.
Experts attribute the party’s failure to a lack of clarity on its political line. During the campaign, Mr. Raj Thackeray expressed his support for Mr. Modi and did not field any candidate against the BJP.
Even star power did not help. Mahesh Manjrekar, actor and director who contested in Mumbai North West, got only 66,088 votes. Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena got 4.6-lakh votes and defeated the Congress veteran Gurudas Kamat by a 1.8-lakh margin in the constituency.
Experts said the MNS lost the pulse of the people. “They couldn’t perform wherever they had gained power. Secondly, they started agitations such as opposition to tolls, but couldn’t take them to their logical end. Thirdly, their political position was very ambiguous. Mr. Raj supported Mr. Modi, but not the BJP-Sena alliance. Also, people may have preferred the moderate face of Uddhav Thackeray over Raj’s,” Aruna Pendse, Professor of Politics in Mumbai University, said.
Congress stalwarts like Milind Deora, Priya Dutt, Sanjay Nirupam, Eknath Gaikwad and Gurudas Kamat got a rude shock when their bastions fell easily into the hands of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine. All prominent candidates lost by a margin of over 1.4 lakh votes. Mr. Nirupam lost to Gopal Shetty of the BJP by over 4.4 lakh votes.
Two-time MP Milind Deora lost the posh South Mumbai constituency to Shiv Sena candidate Arvind Sawant by 1.2 lakh votes. Mumbai North Central, considered a Congress bastion because of the hold of the Dutt family, went to the BJP. Actor Sanjay Dutt’s sister Priya Dutt, who had been consistently winning the seat after the death of their father Sunil Dutt, lost it to Poonam Mahajan of the BJP.
The Aam Aadmi Party was a distant third in four of the six constituencies. Social activist and AAP candidate from Mumbai North East Medha Patkar lost to the BJP’s Kirit Somaiya by 4.4 lakh votes. She could get only 76,451 votes. Banker Meera Sanyal, who contested from South Mumbai, got only 40,388 votes.
As many as 52,971 voters exercised the new NOTA option in the city.