It may have emerged as an alternative to the Shiv Sena by launching a violent campaign against north Indian migrants and the Chhat Puja (a north Indian festival to worship the sun) in Mumbai.
But the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chose to soften its stand against the festival this year.
Thousands of north Indians in Mumbai swarmed Juhu beach on Saturday evening to perform chhat puja, which was conducted peacefully, amidst police arrangements.
The MNS that had made a huge noise about the north Indian festival last year chose to remain quiet this time amidst apprehension that the party would create trouble, buoyed by its performance in the Assembly polls.
“Our opposition is not to the festival but to the political show of strength that it is made out to be,” said MNS leader Shirish Parker.
“Last year, we saw that (Congress Member of Parliament) Sanjay Nirupam was using the festival to boost the morale of north Indians. We are against that.”
People from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar celebrate Chhat puja on the sixth day after Diwali when prayers are offered to the sun.
Last year, when MNS chief Raj Thackeray spoke up against the celebrations, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad had said he would hold the festival outside Thackeray’s home at Shivaji Park this year.
But both parties chose to let things pass peacefully.
Nirupam and Nationalist Congress Party activist Munna Tripathi hosted the festival at Juhu, ensuring all the arrangements were made for the devotees.
“Last time, the issue was blown up by the MNS for purely political gains. We had never hosted the festival under any political banner,” Tripathi said.