Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray declared on Monday that his party will never contest Lok Sabha elections again.
He also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he is the ‘last hope’ of getting the country in order, but added that he was unhappy with the latter’s ‘Gujarat-centric’ approach.
“I have decided that MNS will never contest a Lok Sabha poll again. This decision comes from the belief that national parties should contest parliamentary elections and leave assembly elections to regional parties like us,” Raj said at a press interaction organised at YB Chavan centre on Monday.
He went on to explain that he had not wanted to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. “But there were several issues and pressures that made me take the decision. I wasn’t convinced about myself and it was apparent from my speeches,” he said.
MNS had declared support to Modi, but contested 10 seats in the Lok Sabha. It did not win even a single seat, and lost its deposit in more than half of the constituencies it contested in. He insisted that many MNS members voted for Modi after he declared support to him before the polls.
When asked about his views on Modi’s performance in the past four months, he said that he still believes that Modi is the ‘last hope’ who can improve things in the country. “If we elect someone, it is only fair that we give him enough time to perform. He doesn’t have a magic wand in his hand to change things overnight,” he said.
Asked why he had targeted Modi during his assembly election campaign, he said, “I am still unhappy about his Gujarat-centric approach and his inability to rise above it as India’s prime minister,” he said.
Raj also accused Modi and the BJP of promoting Gujarat at the cost of Maharashtra. However, he clarified that he bore no hatred towards Gujaratis. “This is being wrongly interpreted. This is not against any community but against one person. Why has the BJP still not come up with any explanation on why Gujarat CM Anandiben, who represents Modi, came to Maharashtra and tried to take investors away to her state?” he asked.
Raj refused to answer any questions related to Shiv Sena and his chances of joining forces with its chief and his cousin Uddhav Thackeray. “Things will happen when the time is right,” he said.