Eye on 2019 Assembly polls, Raj Thackeray to tour 50 constituencies in Maharashtra
Before Thackeray’s tour, MNS leaders will crisscross the state in December and January, keep a tab of their issues, and submit a report to himmumbai Updated: Dec 14, 2017 23:14 IST
In a bid to revive the party’s dwindling fortunes, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has decided to undertake a statewide tour of Maharashtra as he gears up for the legislative Assembly elections of 2019. Thackeray has decided to tour Maharashtra after January 20, 2018 to tap into his popularity in interior Maharashtra. He is expected to visit at least 50 constituencies where MNS can build or expand its base.
Before Thackeray’s tour, MNS leaders will crisscross the state in December and January, keep a tab of their issues, and submit a report to the MNS chief.
According to sources, Thackeray wants to field candidates in at least 170 out of 288 Assembly constituencies for the 2019 elections. The team of senior leaders who will tour the state ahead of Thackeray’s visit are expected to evaluate the chances of MNS winning a seat in a particular constituency. Following this, the party will shortlist 170 constituencies for contesting elections.
A source close to Thackeray, on the condition of anonymity said, “Leaders will tour entire Maharashtra and study constituencies where MNS received the maximum votes in 2014 Assembly elections, or lost by a very small margin, so that they may have a chance of winning from there. Thackeray will focus on these areas this time.”
Sachin More, a spokesperson for the party said, “There is a tentative plan at present and nothing is final. The party’s top leaders plan to sit down soon and draft a route. The number of constituencies (Thackeray) will visit can be increased at this time. Then a formal announcement will be made.”
An MNS leader said, “During the tour, Thackeray plans to pick development issues close to the region he visits, which is why some senior party leaders will first undertake a study tour.”
The success of this tour could become a much-needed breather for Thackeray, whose party has gone through a series of electoral defeats recently. In the 2014 Assembly election, MNS won only a single seat, in contrast to the 13 seats that it bagged in the Assembly elections of 2009. Similarly, at the Mumbai Municipal Corporation level, MNS won only seven seats in the civic polls of 2017, in contrast to 28 seats in 2012. However, this further came down to a single seat, as Shiv Sena poached six out of its seven corporators.