In battle for Mumbai company Shinde, BJP tries to undermine Sena by luring Govinda troops

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As Dahi Handi is recognized as a sport, Govindas will become eligible for a quota in government jobs

As Dahi Handi is recognized as a sport, Govindas will become eligible for a quota in government jobs

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s announcement that Dahi Handi will be recognized as an adventure sport has drawn criticism, but it is also seen as an attempt to cut into the base of the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray ahead of the Mumbai municipal elections.

Since Dahi Handi is recognized as a sport, its participants, commonly known as “Govindas”, will become eligible for a quota in government jobs. Activists and political commentators ridiculed the decision on Friday as political parties were silent in their opposition.

But the decision puts the Thackeray faction of the Sena in a dilemma, as Govinda’s troops, made up mainly of lower-middle-class Marathi-speaking youths, come from his traditional support base.

Read also :We broke a difficult Dahi Handi in June, says Maharashtra CM Shinde

Mr Shinde, who started his political career as an ordinary Shiv Sena worker in neighboring Thane and rose through the ranks, rebelled against Thackeray in June this year and toppled the Sena-NCP-Congress-led government by Thackeray in Maharashtra.

Mr Shinde later became chief minister with the backing of rebel Sena MPs and the BJP.

The upcoming elections for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the country’s wealthiest civic body, will be a do-or-die affair for the Uddhav-led faction. The Sena has been in power within the BMC for several years.

Dahi Handi, in which teams of participants form human pyramids and break earthen pots containing curd or buttermilk suspended above the ground, is an important part of the Krishna Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra.

But in major cities, especially Mumbai and Thane, Dahi Handi events have also attracted politicians as a means of distributing patronage locally.

“The govindas are an asset for a political party to establish its influence in a locality. Economically, it is not very costly for a politician or a party to finance them. They were useful at election time. For a long time, the Shiv Sena retained its loyalty and thus maintained its dominance in street politics,” a political analyst said.

In rural Maharashtra, politicians are trying to control the networks of cooperative sugar mills, credit companies, banks and educational institutes in order to consolidate their power base.

“Similarly, an extensive network of Govinda troops and Ganesh mandals helped Shiv Sena to remain dominant in Mumbai and Thane. Such control also has nuisance value and the Sena has used it,” the analyst said.

Therefore, Chief Minister Shinde’s attempt to woo Govinda troops attached to the Sena poses a threat to the Uddhav faction.

“They are given medical (insurance) protection and the carrot of government jobs through sports quotas is also suspended from them,” noted a Sena MP from Mumbai loyal to Uddhav Thackeray, adding that this will have an impact when BMC elections. .

Sena leader Sunil Prabhu, who belongs to the Thackeray faction, welcomed Mr Shinde’s decision in the Assembly, but also said it was “our long demand that Govinda troops be given a medical protection and that Dahi Handi be recognized as a sporting activity”. ”

A former BJP Maharashtra Unity spokesman said the saffron party still had a strong base in the middle and upper classes, but not in the lower middle class.

“The low-income group, made up of people who often do not own a house in Mumbai, do menial jobs and have limited education, have been largely exploited by Shiv Sena. camp would turn out to be a major change for the BJP,” he said.

“Dahi handi’s announcement was also significant because for the first time in the BMC election, it will be BJP against all others. The party intends to dethrone Sena (led by Thackeray). In such a situation, Mr. Shinde decided to recognize Dahi Handi as a sport, offer free medical support and government jobs through sport quotas to Govindas. It will certainly bring many troops from Govinda to Mumbai who have traditionally been with the Sena to cross,” he added.

Irritated MPSC wannabes

But the announcement also angered those taking the Maharashtra Civil Service Commission exams for government jobs.

Asked about this sentiment, the BJP leader said it was true that the move was not well received by MPSC aspirants.

“But it’s not a constituency we should be worried about. There are already very few government jobs available and the selection process is difficult. It’s not like the Govindas will be getting red carpet treatment. Even in sports quotas there will be huge competition,” he said.

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