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Why BJP, Shinde Sena are courting Raj Thackeray

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
May 03, 2024 18:13 IST
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Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray continues to get a steady stream of Bharatiya Janata Party and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena leaders visiting him for support in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls despite his party not being an active player in the political theatre currently.

IMAGE: MNS chief Raj Thackeray meets Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in New Delhi, March 19, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Earlier this week, following the announcement of their candidature, Chief Minister Shinde's son Shrikant Shinde, who is contesting from Kalyan, and Naresh Mhaske, who has been fielded from Thane, met the MNS supremo at his Shivaji Park residence.


Lawyer-turned-politician Ujjwal Nikam, who has been fielded by the BJP from Mumbai North Central, also met Thackeray.

The BJP and Shiv Sena, which along with Ajit Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party comprise the ruling Mahayuti, for some time now have been courting Thackeray, who founded the MNS in 2006.

During the MNS' annual Gudi Padwa rally in Mumbai last month, Thackeray said his party would not contest the Lok Sabha polls but announced his unconditional support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also asked his party men to campaign for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

Espousing the cause of Marathi manoos (sons of the soil), the MNS failed to win a single seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls but managed to eat into the Shiv Sena-BJP votes across the state, especially in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik.

In the 2009 assembly polls that followed, the MNS had its brightest moment under the sun winning 13 seats riding high on the Marathi manoos plank.

It failed to win a seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and its tally in the 2014 and 2019 assembly polls stood at one each. It did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Though Raj Thackeray has not had electoral success, he is a formidable face who speaks aggressively against Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray chief Uddhav Thackeray, opined political commentator Prakash Akolkar.

"Uddhav Thackeray has now become the face of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (the opposition alliance in the state comprising Congress and Sharad Pawar-led NCP-SP (Nationalist Congress Party-Sharad Pawar). Shiv Sena-UBT workers are campaigning even for Congress candidates. They (Mahayuti) want a face that challenges Uddhav Thackeray," Akolkar said.

Nobody doubts Raj Thackeray's oratory skills, charisma and even his ability to occupy the media space, Akolkar pointed out.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Raj Thackeray will hold a rally to canvas votes for Union Minister Narayan Rane, who is contesting from the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat, on Saturday, and is also expected to hold a rally with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month.

MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said though the party was unsuccessful in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it still has sway over voters.

The party has dedicated voters in some pockets, Deshpande said, citing Mumbai's Mahim assembly segment, where he garnered 46,000 votes in the 2019 state elections and stood second.

"Coupled with this, Raj saheb has charisma that can influence voters," Deshpande asserted.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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