The party is losing its foothold over Maharashtra after the exit of key leaders like Ram Kadam and Haji Arafat Shaikh.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) which had played spoilsport in the 2009 assembly election by winning 13 seats is losing its ground in Maharashtra after the exit of key leaders like Ram Kadam and Haji Arafat Shaikh. The party failed to win a single seat in the Lok Sabha election. MNS which remained undecided about contesting election finally had to pay heavy price after fielding contestants against Shiv Sena in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
According to experts, the MNS has failed to connect with the people and was only protesting against the toll issue which failed to yield much result. The party didn’t deliver in the constituencies where it had won. After 8 years the party finds itself at the crossroads as it has failed to reinvent in the aftermath of Lok Sabha poll debacle. MNS supremo Raj Thackeray who is known as an aggressive leader has been maintaining a low profile. The party is yet to release its manifesto.
Ram Kadam MNS MLA from Ghatkopar has quit the party to join BJP as he was unhappy with the functioning of Raj Thackeray. Kadam was sidelined by the party despite performing a good job.
“I was suffering in the party since the last one and half years. Some people within the party tried to stifle me. They created an issue about me not residing in Ghatkopar and hence not represent the constituency. Since the last few days there were efforts to field someone from Kandivali as the MNS candidate in Ghatkopar,” Kadam said.
Kadam nonetheless don’t have any complaints against Raj and Sharmila Thackeray and respects them.
In the 2009 election, the MNS had helped the Congress-NCP by splitting the Marathi votes. There was lack of communication between Raj Thackeray and party cadre workers which resulted into the downfall of MNS.
Kadam said he didn’t receive his due despite performing a good job during his tenure in MNS. He said, “My performance as an MLA has been good. But instead of praise, I received criticism. But the people from my constituency are with me. I am in the BJP because I am impressed by Narendra Modi’s style of functioning.”
Earlier Haji Arafat Shaikh, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Vice-President had quit the party and raised serious allegations against his former party chief Raj Thackeray.
“One day he says he will contest the election, and the other day he backtracks. I think he has lost his mental balance” he said.
Haji Arafat is nephew of Sabir Shaikh, who was a minister in Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra. The family was very close to Bal Thackeray. Arafat alleged that the Muslim party workers are being ignored and sidelined in the party.
“I had joined the MNS to serve my community and the nation. But, Muslims are deliberately sidelined in the party. They are being ignored”, he alleged.
The MNS also had received another setback when around 60 members and party office-bearers of the Pimpri Chinchwad unit resigned from the posts and party membership to protest against the lack of support from party chief Raj Thackeray as well as senior party leaders.