10 years on, Raj Thackeray his Sena

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2016 13:55 IST

From an organisational revamp to annual Gudi Padwa rallies to rival the Shiv Sena’s Dussehra rallies and an updated ‘blueprint’ for the state’s future development — the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) plans to present a new version of the party as it turns 10 on Wednesday.

About two years after crushing defeats in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the party is trying various strategies to remain relevant in the city and the state.

If it fails to revive itself in time for the civic polls in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Pune next year, the party will be all but out of the reckoning for the 2019 national and state polls.

If its senior leaders are to be believed, party chief Raj Thackeray is trying to ‘re-position’ himself and his party with the right mix of identity politics and development talk using the party’s developmental ‘blueprint’.

His aides say Thackeray has been promising to revitalise the party.

“Even in internal meetings, he has been asking party workers to wait until the Gudi Padwa [the start of the New Year for Maharashtrians] rally where he will spell out the party’s plan of action. He is going to speak on how the party has to shape up and regain its lost glory,” said a senior party leader close to Thackeray.

The task, however, seems to be an uphill one. The two crushing defeats in the general and assembly polls have robbed the party of public confidence and goodwill. Thackeray’s appeal among voters has also waned.

The party — which was formed after Thackeray quit the Sena following a power tussle with cousin Uddhav — largely attracted young, middle-class Maharashtrians after it launched a violent campaign against migrants from North India.

Thackeray surprised political pundits by bagging 13 seats in the 2009 Assembly polls. But that momentum was soon lost thanks to a weak second-rung leadership and an inability to pick issues pertaining to the common man.

This was followed by the Modi wave in 2014, which ruined Thackeray’s plans to emerge as a major political force in Maharashtra.

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