Struggling to stay relevant, MNS plans revamp on 10th birthday

  • Kunal Purohit, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2016 10:45 IST

From carrying out an organisational revamp to ‘re-launching’ the party to kicking off annual rallies on ‘Gudi Padwa’ in response to the rival Shiv Sena’s Dussehra rallies to updating its much-spoken about ‘blueprint’ for state’s future development, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leadership has planned to present a new version of the party as it turns 10 on Wednesday.

About two years after crushing defeats in Lok Sabha and assembly elections, the party is trying various strategies to remain relevant to the state and the city. 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 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 combined with talk around development using the party’s developmental ‘blueprint’.

His aides say Thackeray has been promising to revitalize the party. “Even in internal meetings, he has been asking party workers to wait till the Gudhi Padva (celebrated as beginning of new year by Maharashtrians) rally where he will spell out the party’s plan of action. He is going to spell out the way the party has to shape and how it must regain its lost glory,” said a senior party leader, close to Thackeray.

However, the task is uphill. 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’s non-performance even while it bagged 13 seats in the ’09 assembly poll are just some of the challenges. Following a power tussle with cousin Uddhav, Raj quit the Shiv Sena and floated the MNS.

He attracted young and middle class Maharashtrian voters as he launched a violent campaign against `outsiders’ (migrants) targeting the north Indians. He surprised political pundits by winning 13 seats in his first assembly polls in 2009 but failed to capitalize on the same. Thanks to lack of a strong organization, second rung leadership and inability to pick issues pertaining to common man, he lost the momentum soon. 2014 turned out to be a disappointing year for him as the Modi wave ruined his plans to emerge as a major political force in Maharashtra.

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