Alliance with BJP, Ayodhya visit may figure in Raj Thackeray’s Gudi Padwa speech
Ahead of the local body polls, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray is expected to speak on an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the latter ruled out any such possibility and his plan to visit Ayodhya, at his annual rally on Gudi Padwa on Saturday
Ahead of the local body polls, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray is expected to speak on an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the latter ruled out any such possibility and his plan to visit Ayodhya, at his annual rally on Gudi Padwa on Saturday. If the cue is taken from his recent rally in Pune, Thackeray may come down on the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by his cousin and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
This will be his first rally at Shivaji Park after a gap of two years during which the Covid-19 restrictions were in force. Raj, in his foundation day speech last month in Pune, had said that there would be fireworks at the Gudi Padwa rally.
MNS leader Shalini Thackeray said people of Maharashtra were looking forward to the party chief’s public address. “The people are tired of the constant fight between the state and the Centre as there is no thought given for the welfare of citizens. In such circumstances, people are looking forward to Rajsaheb with a lot of expectations,” she said.
Currently, the 16-year-old MNS suffers from a host of problems - inaccessibility of Raj Thackeray, lack of credible second line of leadership, weak organisational network, lack of programmes for workers, demoralised cadre, and paucity of resources. This can be gauged from the fact that at present, MNS has just one legislator in the assembly and a lone corporator in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
After the drubbing in the 2019 assembly polls and subsequent breakage in Shiv Sena-BJP ties, Raj adopted the Hindutva agenda. He had in January 2020 unveiled a new saffron flag with a rajmudra (seal) of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with the party’s name below it. Last year, during Dussehra, MNS put up ‘proud to be Hindu’ banners in many places across the city.
Two seers from Uttar Pradesh - Guru Ma Kanchan Giriji and Jagatguru Suryacharaji - had in October, last year, come to seek his support for establishing a Hindu nation. In this backdrop, Raj’s proposed visit to Ayodhya, where the Ram temple is under construction, assumes significance.
Political expert Hemant Desai said Raj would be unsparing in his attacks on the MVA government. “Raj has no choice but to attack the MVA. He will reveal his party line to the workers so that they can prepare for the civic polls,” Desai said.
Elections to 15 municipal corporations and 27 zilla parishads are scheduled this year. MNS is mainly concentrating on Mumbai, Pune and Nashik corporations where it enjoyed electoral support in the previous elections.
Desai said Raj would also be focussing on Hindutva, signalling to the BJP that they share a common ideology.