In a significant political move, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday announced candidates for the Lok Sabha polls and also declared his party's support for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
"We will contest the Lok Sabha elections. I will show my party's strength during the elections. We will support Narendra Modi for the PM's post. Modi should become the prime minister of the country," said Raj addressing his party workers on the eighth foundation day of the MNS at the Shanmukhananda hall in Mumbai.
The BJP has also welcomed the move by the MNS. The announcement by Raj comes days after former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari had met him at a five-star hotel, requesting him not to field candidates for the general elections.
Gadkari had asked the MNS chief not to field his nominees to avoid division in vote against Congress. Raj on Sunday announced names of seven MNS candidates who would be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The seven nominees of MNS declared are -- Member of Legislative Assembly Bala Nandgaonkar, close confidante of Raj who will contest from Mumbai South seat, Aditya Shirodkar (Mumbai South Central), actor-director Mahesh Manjrekar (Mumbai North-West), Raju Patil (Kalyan-Dombivli), Ashok Khandebharad (Shirur), Dr Pradeep Pawar (Nashik) and Deepak Paigude from Pune.
Notably, not only Gadkari, but even his close aides Ashish Shelar and Vinod Tawde had met Raj at his residence Krushna Kunj on Friday. The MNS chief has said that he would soon inform about his first public rally, where he would reply to all the criticism he faced in the last few days (apparently over his meeting with Gadkari).