Challenged by Modi's BJP, will Thackerays 'unite'?

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 15, 2014 12:48 IST

The five-cornered election in Maharashtra will have its share of surprises and is expected to be the start of new political arrangements. But what everyone wants to know is whether the warring Thackeray cousins will finally reunite, albeit for political reasons.

Polls pundits say the possibility of the two joining hands is higher after the Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parted ways. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) looks more like a natural alliance for the Sena in case the latter gets significant numbers (at least 145 seats) and needs help to form the government, experts said.

Further fuelling the speculation, MNS chief Raj Thackeray disclosed a conversation he had with Uddhav Thackeray the day the Sena-BJP alliance broke. However, Uddhav has remained silent on the issue.

Both parties have similar agendas and a possibility of them coming together on a common programme that hinges on regional politics, concentrated around issues of the Marathi manoos and sons of the soil, cannot be ruled out, experts said.

During a press meet on Monday, Raj hinted on the possibility of the parties uniting. He said Maharashtra-based regional parties should form a regional party’s federation, which will be a united pool of parties that will work on local issues.

When asked about Sena, Raj claimed that they will come together if they have to.

Sena leader Diwakar Raote, however, said they were not discussing post-poll scenarios and are waiting for the results. “Uddhavji is very clear that we will get a majority and the next Maharashtra CM will be from the Sena. If there is anything, we will know after the results,” Raote said.

For now the Sena is busy concentrating on damaging chances of the BJP. Also, the MNS doesn’t hold the same power it did in 2009, when it damaged the prospects of the Sena-BJP candidates by cutting into several seats across Mumbai and Thane.

In the Lok Sabha elections, MNS candidates lost the 10 seats they had contested. Also, Sena has 44 seats in the Assembly, compared to MNS’ 13.

Political expert Surendra Jondhale said Raj’s willingness to talk to the Sena was welcomed by MNS voters, who may be shifting their loyalties to the Sena in the current scenario. “Raj has improved his political image, which will get him votes. He has come across as a large-hearted person, someone who cares for the Sena and his cousin. A possibility of the Sena, NCP and MNS coming together can’t be ruled out,” said Jondhale.

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