On the eve of the seventh foundation day of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on March 9, a buzz was created by a Marathi daily about it joining hands with the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, which MNS chief Raj Thackeray was quick to deny.
Referring to the possibility of the new alliance as a ‘figment of imagination’, Raj on Friday said there was no truth in it. Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut also denied any such development.
However, although both the parties may not want to admit it openly, there is unanimity within the second-rung leaders of all the three parties that the union is inevitable if they are to come to power, both for the Lok Sabha and state elections scheduled in 2014.
Both parties have been sitting in the opposition benches for the last 15 years.
“Second-rung leaders in both the Sena and MNS have spoken to Uddhav and Raj and convinced them that we need to come together. Although the possibility of a pre-poll alliance is faint, we certainly hope for a post-poll one,” said a senior Sena legislator.
A quick look at the 2009 Lok Sabha results and it is clear that the MNS has eaten into the Sena vote share, and also into the BJP’s to an extent, helping the Congress-NCP alliance sweep all the six seats in Mumbai.
In 1995, when the BJP-Sena combine won, it was the voters in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik who helped them get past the victory line. At present, voters in these areas are divided among the three parties.
As far as the BJP is concerned, senior leader Gopinath Munde has always openly called for the warring Thackeray brothers to join hands.
Along with Munde, sources say that the dominant BJP faction of Nitin Gadkari is also keen that Raj comes on board with them.
Political commentator Surendra Jondhale however feels this chatter will lead nowhere.
“In the current situation, Raj will want to go solo and assess his political weight. It is the BJP which is desperate to get him on board for the numbers game,” he said.
“The Sena, on the other hand, looks at the MNS as an emotional requirement,” added Jondhale.