A week after BJP snub, MNS decides to go solo in civic polls | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

A week after BJP snub, MNS decides to go solo in civic polls

By, Mumbai:
Feb 03, 2022 12:13 AM IST

A week after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled out an alliance with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

A week after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled out an alliance with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for the civic polls, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Wednesday said his party would fight on its own.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray. HT/File
MNS chief Raj Thackeray. HT/File

Thackeray chaired a meeting of party leaders at MIG Club in Bandra. “I cannot say what will happen tomorrow but as of now, we are going alone,” he said while asking party workers to begin preparations, according to a leader who attended the meeting. An official statement from the MNS is awaited.

Elections will be held for the civic bodies of Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nashik among others.

Isolated in the state’s political space after the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, and Congress came together to claim power following the 2019 Assembly elections, the BJP started considering the possibility of adding the MNS as its new partner.

BJP’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil had called on Thackeray at his residence a few months ago and they had talks on a tie-up. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis too visited Thackeray’s new house ‘Shivtirth’ at Shivaji Park.

Thackeray who had campaigned extensively against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 took a U-turn and adopted the ‘Hindutva’ agenda in January 2020. He even adopted a saffron flag with a rajmudra (seal) of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with the party’s name below it. He desisted from attacking north Indians in recent times.

The MNS hoped that an alliance with the BJP would give it a foothold across the state and also rub off Thackeray’s image as a spoiler.

Despite this, the BJP last week decided against going together as it feared that Thackeray’s anti-north Indian image would invite backlash among the community. Currently, north Indians form a major chunk of the BJP’s vote bank in Mumbai and neighbouring areas. BJP leaders are also wary of the reaction such an alliance will have on the high-profile Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

Political analyst Hemant Desai said both parties will still have an informal alliance. “It is not possible for the BJP to have a formal tie-up as this may alienate its north Indian voters. However, they will have a secret understanding at the local level as both need each other.”

He said the BJP needs the MNS to cut into the Sena’s votes and the MNS needs resources from the BJP. “Thackeray still has the charisma, and he is popular among Maharashtrian youths. However, though his candidates may not be able to win many seats, they have the potential to damage the Sena which will benefit the BJP.”

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