A day before the Thane mayoral elections, Raj Thackeray, likely to play a crucial role, is holding his cards close to his chest.
The elections are scheduled to be held this evening, and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief is scheduled to hold a press conference in the morning, even as last-ditch efforts were on Monday by both, the saffron alliance and the Cong-NCP combine, to cobble support for their candidates. Neither combine has the requisite number on its own.
Thane has been witnessing high drama for the past few days after BJP corporator Suhasini Lokhande and her family went 'missing'. The Sena-BJP combine alleged that NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad abducted her in order to win the mayoral election and a case has been registered against him.
The combine enforced a bandh on Sunday and had planned a protest march in the city on Monday. However, the police denied permission for the march, and so a gathering was held at the party office near Talao Pali instead.
The BJP has filed a habeas corpus petition in the Bombay high court with respect to the missing corporator. It has disqualified Lokhande, in case she decides to vote against the alliance's candidate.
"The court has asked the police to present a report on the investigations conducted so far. The court is expected to pass its order on Tuesday morning," said BJP leader Sandeep Lele, who was confident that his combine would win. NCP's candidate, Najib Mulla, said: "We are confident of a win. If the MNS supports us, we will have the required number."
All eyes are on Raj Thackeray now. "The final decision will be made by Rajsaheb. We will definitely be the kingmakers whichever combine we decide to support," said Rajan Gavand, MNS spokesperson.