The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) will contest all 227 seats in the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections alone.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who kicked off the party’s campaign at Prabhadevi on Wednesday by going live on Facebook, called the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) his main rival.
He slammed the BJP’s campaign targeting the Shiv Sena over corruption in the BMC a sham. “For the past 30 years, the BJP has been ruling the BMC in partnership with the Sena. Even they are involved in all scams,” he said.
He accused the BJP of thriving on money power. “Every political party is hit by demonetisation, but the BJP is on a spending spree in Uttar Pradesh,” said Thackeray.
He expressed confidence that despite a series of electoral debacles, the MNS will emerge victorious in the coming elections. “Every political party sees ups and downs. We will score well, considering the work done by our corporators done in the BMC. All Fadnavis does is makes grandiose announcements and tall promises, but delivers nothing,” he said.
Riding on the son-of-the-soil issue, the MNS scored significantly in the 2012 BMC elections, getting 27 corporators elected to the BMC. In the past one year, five corporators have deserted the party, leaving the MNS with just 22 in its ranks.
After the debacle in 2014 in the Lok Sabha and the Assembly, the MNS has been at its lowest ebb. Top leaders have left the party and defections of party workers to other outfits have become a common phenomenon.
Political commentators said the MNS will not be a major factor in the BMC elections. “The MNS was not able to capitalise on its success the last time. Thackeray will not be able to influence the coming elections,” said Prakash Bal, eminent political analyst. “Raj Thackeray is a good orator, but his speeches are seen more as entertainment than as means to garner votes.”