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After ED episode, Raj Thackeray will gain sympathy of voters

MNS chief Raj Thackeray was grilled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case, he has been questioned for around eight and half hours.

Raj Thackeray, Unmesh Joshi – son of the former chief minister and senior leader Manohar Joshi and Rajan Shirodkar who is also an MNS leader founded Kohinoor CTNL. Kohinoor CTNL developed a high rise named Kohinoor Square in Dadar. The ED is probing alleged irregularities relating to loans and equity investment worth over Rs 450 crore by IL&FS in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company, which is developing Kohinoor Square tower in Mumbai’s Dadar area. The investigation agency is probing the shareholding pattern of Raj Thackeray, Rajan Shirodkar and Unmesh Joshi. The amount of the shares which were sold off is under scrutiny. Unmesh Joshi was questioned by the agency for three days while Rajan Shirodkar was questioned for two days.

Raj’s wife Sharmila Thackeray, son Amit, daughter Urvashi, daughter-in-law Mitali and a few other party supporters accompanied him. He walked in his fearless pattern and returned equally with display. The question here is that why all this has happened ahead of elections? Who will be benefitted? Why Uddhav came to his rescue and how voters will translate this episode? Among all these questions, one thing is sure that he will gain sympathy of his voters.

In March 2006 he formed MNS. He tried to show that he had rightful claim to the throne i.e. Shiv Sena Chief post as against Balasaheb’s heir apparent Uddhav Thackeray. He had decent success in 2007 Mumbai Municipal elections winning 7 seats. He continued his success in 2009 Assembly elections where he managed to win 13 seats against Shiv Sena’s 44. In Mumbai it managed to outsmart Shiv Sena too. Raj continued the momentum for few more years. He managed to win 27 seats in BMC and managed to win Mayoral post in Nasik. MNS performance in other municipal corporations like Pune and KDMC was also good. Thus, he was poised to take quantum jump in 2012. What went wrong?

Primarily, he pursued single line agenda of anti-North Indians. Mumbai and Thane have a very large North-indian population. So, he could get support from this region. But, this had no emotional connect outside Mumbai-Thane belt, as they were not faced with outsider problem. In ten years of formation no second line of leadership was developed outside Mumbai. All the decisions were taken from Mumbai and regional leaders were like puppets. Many good workers left the party and all those who left Shiv Sena for Raj, left him and rejoined Uddhav. His wife too played key role in spoiling MNS politics. Uddhav is surrounded by strong voices and Raj remained as only voice in the party. Both the Thackerays have poor people connect. But at least in Shiv Sena’s case, they have decent middle line of leaders who connect with workers. All in all MNS could not gather disgruntled Sena leaders but could not create an organisation. Balasaheb Thackeray’s death in 2012 changed lot of things. Raj Thackeray’s behaviour as well as his comments were not in good taste. Many people who felt that Raj’s betrayal caused Balasaheb’s heath to deteriorate. Many in Maharashtra wanted both brothers to come together. But when they saw him aligning with CongressNCP they were disappointed. Further when they saw that his goal was defeating Shiv Sena at all cost rather than winning for the betterment of the state, they were let down. People were tired of Raj Thackeray’s u-turns. Before Lok Sabha elections he was talking of alliance with BJP-Sena. Then he said no. Then he put up candidates only against Shiv Sena and announced support to Narendra Modi. All this confused people and even his supporters, who in Modi wave overwhelmingly voted for BJP-Sena alliance causing MNS to loose deposit in all LS seats they contested. Meanwhile, for years he was talking about development plan, which came on the day before the last day of filing applications. There was no justification for this delay.

All in all he was seen with great hope and Uddhav was seen as unworthy who had inherited the wealth from his father. Unfortunately, Raj Thackeray was proven to be “Bol Bachchan”. Marathi media finally termed him as Aarambh Shur, which means one who starts something with great fanfare but never delivers it. Also his actions were confusing. In 2014, Raj Thackeray announced he was going to fight Vidhan Sabha then he said he won’t, at one time he was talking to Shiv Sena for alliance, which caused lot of heartburn in his supporters. People had started to loose faith in Raj. Everyone wants a decisive leader. Raj was seen as arrogant and confused and Uddhav was seen as soft-spoken, calm and one who leads from the front. Even his hardcore supporters could not justify themselves supporting him and changed the camps either to support Modi or to support Uddhav. Thus, ten years after splitting from Shiv Sena , things have come a full circle. Raj is almost where he started. Uddhav is at least part of the Government. People hate losers more than they love winners. Hope now this ED episode, might fetch him some sympathy wave, as he is still loved by many Maharashtrians.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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