Even though the BJP-led NDA is aiming at 30 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra to improve its overall tally, the MNS’ entry into fray may scuttle its plans.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray has decided to contest the LS elections, which may end up in further division of pro-saffron votes.
Raj is likely to announce his list of candidates on Sunday. Sources indicated that the MNS is likely to contest 15 to 22 seats.
Going by his 2009 performance, Raj has the capacity to poll 50,000 to 100,000 votes in at least a dozen constituencies in the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik belt.
Significantly, this is the same area where the BJP-Sena combine is trying to win more seats.
In 2009, the combine did not win a single seat in Mumbai due to the division of votes caused by the MNS. It also lost Thane and Nashik seats to the NCP.
There were some speculations that Raj would selectively target the Shiv Sena and go soft on BJP.
But BJP leaders said if the MNS targets only the Sena, the NDA will get hit in six to eight constituencies. And if this battle becomes a high-pitch one, it will have an impact on BJP constituencies in the neighbouring areas too.
“This means at least a dozen of our candidates would be in danger if the MNS splits the votes,” said a top BJP leader.
Apart from fielding candidates from Mumbai, Kalyan and Thane, Raj may also consider alliance proposals by PWD and the JSS in Konkan and Kolhapur.