Is it too early to write off MNS in Maharashtra?

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2014 15:05 IST

The new political bonds that were forged for the Nashik civic polls might force the Opposition, which has almost written off the impact Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray could have on the state elections, do a rethink.

A few hours before the state poll dates got announced, the MNS took help from its sworn enemy, the NCP-Congress combine, to retain power in the Nashik civic body. The BJP, which was supporting MNS mayor for more than two years, severed ties with the party two days ago, and decided to go with its ally Shiv Sena instead.

The MNS, which had the highest number of seats in Nashik, joined hands with the NCP-Congress and bagged 75 seats in a house of 122.

Its nominee Ashok Murtadak was elected the mayor.

This has led to speculation on what Raj’s strategy for polls will be. There is a possibility that he will get into an understanding with the Congress-NCP to damage the prospects of BJP-Sena.

However, there is also a possibility that the decision in Nashik may remain restricted to local politics and that Raj might not want to hurt his voter base, which sees him as an independent leader who fights for issues related to the sons-of-the soil and those hurting common man. Riding on these issues, the MNS managed to poll more than 1 lakh votes in the six constituencies of Mumbai and one in Thane in 2009, and hurt the Sena-BJP candidates, in turn helping the Congress-NCP win 14 seats.

“The Nashik civic poll hints at new political configurations. The MNS which is fighting for its survival needs a strategy. There is a possibility that the MNS will take a stand against the BJP,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said backing the MNS was a strategic move. “Our aim was to keep the Shiv Sena-BJP out.”

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