After being away from the public glare post his disastrous performance in the assembly polls, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has finally started picking up the pieces. Raj has decided to skip the swearing-in ceremony of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, and is now embarking on a 17-day tour of different cities in the state from Friday.
This will be one of the longest tours Raj has undertaken in recent times. The move comes amidst fears the party may see large-scale desertions after winning just one seat in the Assembly polls and with no other major elections on the horizon.
He will kick-start the tour by visiting Pathardi taluka in Ahmednagar, where three members of a Dalit family were killed. After this visit, Raj will then go to four cities — Kalyan, Nasik, Aurangabad and Pune — and spend three to four days in each city, returning to Mumbai only on November 17.
All the four cities have a significant MNS presence. Many in the party are keenly watching what Raj does in these cities, especially in Nashik where he will be spending nearly four days.
Raj, party leaders said, will not hold any public meetings during this tour. Instead, he will meet party workers and local party office-bearers. An organisational rejig, following this tour, is also expected.
“This is his [Raj’s] idea — he wanted to go to them and interact directly, instead of calling senior leaders to Mumbai,” said a senior party leader. According to the leader, Raj will also try to explain why the MNS may have lost. “This time, we were hit by the Modi wave and hence we lost so badly. This has to be communicated to party workers so that they don’t feel demoralised.”
Raj’s close aide Nitin Sardesai said the MNS chief will also take stock of the situation.
“He will review the party’s organisational strength, along with finding reasons why the party fared poorly in these polls. We will also ask party workers to suggest ways in which the party can move ahead,” said Sardesai.