When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inducted Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA Ram Kadam into the party on Thursday, for many, it broke an unwritten rule in the cozy friendship that the two parties have shared. For years now, neither have the parties attacked each other openly, nor poached members of the other party. With Kadam’s induction, is it finally an all-out war between the two parties? Many seem to think so.
The recent two instances — from the BJP withdrawing support to the MNS in Nashik last week, jeopardising its rule over the only civic body it controls to now Kadam’s induction — signal that an aggressive BJP may not want to indulge with the MNS this time around. In the recent Lok Sabha polls, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari had initially asked Thackeray not to field candidates against the BJP-Sena.
Sources in both parties agreed that Thursday’s development is likely to rattle the MNS. “When we first began evaluating the possibility of inducting him, this was a hindrance because of a certain section of the leadership. But we eventually concluded that MNS being a spent force this election, winning that seat was a bigger priority.”
Many attribute this to the perception in political circles that the MNS is no longer a strong force this time, as it was in 2009, thus making it possible for the BJP to ignore it.
Thackeray’s relationship with the BJP has often earned him criticism, from touring the Modi-ruled state and praising it to declaring his support for Modi’s prime ministerial ambitions.
An MNS leader said while Thackeray was yet to spell out the party’s line, the MNS had learned its lessons.
“There is a clear realisation the confusion caused by the party’s flip-flop on support to the BJP cost us a lot of votes.” Political commentator Prakash Bal said, “It shows the BJP believes the clout of the MNS is diminishing.”