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Six corporators’ defection a huge blow for Raj Thackeray’s MNS

Of the party’s seven BMC corporators, six quit and joined Shiv Sena, making the MNS chief’s struggle to stay relevant in Maharashtra politics even more tough

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2017 12:50 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
Friday’s defection of six MNS corporators comes as a huge blow to Raj Thackeray, who is struggling to revive his party. (HT File)

Following the defection of six of his seven corporators in the Mumbai civic body on Friday, questions are being raised about the future of Raj Thackeray’s battered Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which he has been struggling to revive.

The six MNS corporators of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) defected to its arch-rival Shiv Sena, making the MNS chief’s struggle to stay relevant in Maharashtra politics more difficult.

The party has been on the back foot ever since its dismal performance in the 2014 Assembly, and this year in the BMC elections. In the past few months, Thackeray has been infusing fresh blood in his party through the appointment of youngsters to key posts.

Most recently, Thackeray led a protest march against the railway administration after the Elphinstone Road station stampede. He has also been seen consistently attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an attempt to tap into people’s resentment against the ruling party over its controversial demonetisation and GST decisions.

Friday’s defection is a huge blow to Thackeray and his party, said political analysts. “The MNS workers are highly demoralised as there is no vision for the party. They are confused, and this defection is both a political and psychological setback for the party,” said political expert Surendra Jondhale. ”With both the BJP and the Sena busy fighting among themselves despite being in power, the MNS workers see no future for themselves in the current scenario.”

In its early days, the MNS had tasted huge success, bagging 13 Assembly seats and 28 seats in the BMC. However in 2014, it saw a severe drubbing, with its Assembly tally dipping to just one legislator. After these polls, the MNS had seen large-scale defections, especially by top leaders such as Pravin Darekar and Vasant Gite, who joined the BJP. Now, six of its seven corporators in the BMC have defected after its poor performance in the civic polls held earlier this year.

Senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar, however, claimed that the latest defections will make hardly any difference. “They were traitors, and their exit will not affect us. The revival programme is going on and we will see the results in the next elections,” he said.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 12:49 IST