The troubles for Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) don’t seem to be ending.
After close aide and former legislator Pravin Darekar, it was now the turn of senior leaders led by former legislator Vasant Gite in the party’s stronghold of Nashik to resign from party posts.
On Monday, the party also saw the resignations of the party secretary Atul Chandak and Nasik district chief Sachin Thakre from party posts.
Talking to reporters, Geete, a former MNS MLA, said, "I, Atul Chandak and other party office-bearers from Nashik have resigned, taking moral responsibility for the defeat of the party in the recently held assembly elections."
The leaders are said to be in talks with the BJP and are planning to crossover soon.
The MNS’ troubles, however, won’t stop here. Senior party leaders fear that Gite and the dissident MNS leaders will also try and split the party in the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC). If this happens, the MNS could end up losing control of the NMC, the only civic corporation it controls.
The first signs of trouble were when a meeting of all the 40 MNS corporators called by mayor Ashok Murtadak saw at least three corporators not attending the meeting citing different reasons, local sources said.
However, MNS leaders downplayed this possibility and said, “There’s very little for the corporators to gain from breaking away from the party. The civic polls are at least two and a half years away and we are sure of convincing them to stay back,” said a Mumbai-based senior leader.
Nashik, which once gave the MNS three legislators and its first municipal corporation victory, is slipping away from the party's grip. Its candidate stood third in the LS polls and all the three sitting MLAs, including Gite, lost miserably in these polls.
Many in the party fear that Gite’s resignation will give rise to many defections. Sources in the party said that there were at least two other major leaders who were on the verge of quitting the party. Gite’s resignation will wipe the party out in the city. “When Gite was in-charge, he never let anyone else grow in Nashik. But, with his exit, whatever little is left of the party will wither away.”
Raj Thackeray is planning to visit Nashik this week. The visit, however, is unlikely to yield much in terms of convincing these leaders to stay back, sources said.
All the three leaders remained out of bounds for a comment.