Mumbai: Shiv Sena’s executive president Uddhav Thackeray will address Sena’s golden jubilee Vijaya Dashmi rally at Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park grounds on 11 October.

The Sena was formed on 19 June 1966, and its founder Balasaheb Thackeray held the first Vijaya Dashmi rally on 30 October the same year.

A large turnout of Sena cadres and followers is expected in view of polls to Mumbai municipal corporations in early 2017 and the aggressive posture taken by the Sena for assembly polls in Goa and Uttar Pradesh.

A senior Sena leader and minister in Maharashtra said requesting anonymity that the 50th Dussehra rally held enormous importance for cadres as Thackeray was expected to position the Sena in the context of local, state and national issues. Given the Sena’s uneasy relationship with ally BJP, the latter would be watching the Sena show with great interest, functionaries from both parties said.

“It is quite a rare Sena rally because of the context in which it is being held. The Sena has become nationally relevant not only because it is part of the National Democratic Alliance but also because it has taken a position on national issues. We are seriously contesting elections in Uttar Pradesh and Goa. There are civic body polls which are important for our base in Maharashtra," said the minister. Ten urban civic bodies, including Mumbai, and more than 25 zilla parishads will go to polls between December 2016 and March 2017. “The local elections come at a time when the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra will have completed two years. We are looking at these elections as a significant test of public mood," said the Sena minister.

The Sena has announced it will contest 20 seats in Goa and 200 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Both states go to polls in early 2017. Thackeray has himself said he will visit both states after 11 October and he is likely to explain his rationale behind contesting in these states where the Sena is unlikely to win seats but may damage the BJP.

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