Days after BJP leader Narendra Modi was anointed as the prime ministerial candidate, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray continues to maintain a stoic silence over the issue.
“It is a good development that Modiji has been chosen. But an official comment on the issue will be given by Raj Thackeray in the next few days,” said Shirish Parkar, spokesperson of the MNS.
This development has once again forced Thackeray to answer the all-important question – to join or not join hands with the BJP Sena alliance for the upcoming elections. Raj has often praised Modi and the development efforts in Gujarat, a fact, which BJP feels, will get him on board. However, the MNS chief has not opened his cards yet.
The BJP has been chasing Raj for over a year now and hoping that he joins hands with them for both the Lok Sabha and the state assembly elections.
In 2009, the saffron-combine lost in Maharashtra as there was a split of votes, resulting in MNS emerging as a formidable political force in the Mumbai-ThanePune-Nashik belt that has about 100 assembly seats.
Getting Raj on board would mean a division of votes would be avoided and the Sena-BJP could have better chances to win most of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.
MNS sources say Raj is still in a quandary. Even seven years after the formation of his party, he has been able to get only 11 MLA seats and is not in a position to form the government on his own.
The feeling among party men is that joining hands with the BJP-Sena will be better than uniting with Congress-NCP.
However, this will defeat Raj’s dream to take over the Sena vote.
Now with the Modi development, there is a talk that BJP will be resuming efforts through Senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar, both who are seen as close to Raj.
But what Raj will do (considering he snubbed BJP leaders on a previous occasion, saying he will go solo) remains to be seen.