Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to sound poll bugle from Maharashtra CM’s home turf
He will address a mega rally in Nagpur on February 2Updated: Jan 18, 2019, 07:58 IST
Kicking off the Shiv Sena’s poll campaign, party chief Uddhav Thackeray will hold a mega rally in Nagpur – chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s home turf – on February 2.
Even as there is no clarity so far on an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Sena has gone ahead with chalking out rallies and other tours of its party chief.
However, Sena leaders maintained that Thackeray’s address in Pandharpur on December 24, 2018 was its start of the poll campaign. Senior Sena leader Anandrao Adsul, an MP from Amravati, dismissed suggestions that Nagpur was chosen to kick-off the campaign as part of sending out any ‘signal’ to the BJP, which has a strong presence in the region. “We did one (rally) in Pandharpur, now we’ll do one in Nagpur. There is no specific reason behind selecting Nagpur; It is an important city in Vidarbha. It should not be viewed as Nagpur is a stronghold of the chief minister or [Union minister Nitin] Gadkari. Then whose stronghold was Pandharpur?” he asked.
Adsul added that Thackeray is going to hold rallies in Nashik in north Maharashtra and in south Maharashtra’s Sangli. However, the dates for the same are yet to be fixed. “One thing is clear, that the elections are around the corner, therefore we are going ahead with our plan. There are rallies being planned; in Nagpur we are expecting about 3 lakh people,” said Adsul.
The Sena has a sizable influence in Mumbai, Thane, Konkan, parts of Marathwada, etc, but its base is weak in regions such as western Maharashtra and Vidarbha. Out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats, the Sena won four seats in Vidarbha in the 2014 general elections, which it contested in alliance with the BJP. Out of the 62 Assembly seats in Vidarbha, the Sena managed to win only four in the 2014 Assembly polls, which it contested solo.
Meanwhile, Sena leaders maintain there is no movement on discussions on alliance with the BJP. A Sena MP said the BJP tells newspapers and television channels that it intends to have an alliance with the Sena, but no leader has come to Thackeray to hold talks so far.