The relations between Shiv Sena and MNS have strained ever since BJP leader Nitin Gadkari had met MNS supremo Raj Thackeray to urge him to not field too many candidates for the Lok Sabha election as it would only benefit the Congress-NCP alliance. Uddhav had been attacking the BJP and had asked the party to clear its stand on MNS party. A war of words has been going on between Shiv Sena and MNS over this issue too.
Defending Gadkari’s meeting with Raj Thackeray, MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said, “Gadkari did meet Raj Thackeray. But what is wrong in that? There are neither permanent friends nor foes in politics,” he said. Replying to a question on MNS’ poll prospects in the Lok Sabha polls, Nandgaonkar said, “MNS will win at least five seats in the upcoming elections and I will be one of them.”
Nandgaonkar also targeted the Shiv Sena and said that Marathi vote bank is not a monopoly of any party. “Marathi vote bank is not any party’s monopoly. Had that been the case, Shiv Sena would have still been ruling in Maharashtra,” he said.
The MNS MLA, also expressed confidence that his party would do well on at least five out of the ten seats it is contesting in Maharashtra.
When asked whether MNS has fielded candidates to make a dent into Sena’s traditional vote bank, he said, “We are not fielding candidates to eat into Shiv Sena’s vote bank at all. We are fighting on our own and fielding those candidates, who either have a good chance of winning or being at least in the runner up position. There are several seats where Sena has fielded candidates, but we have not.”
The MNS legislator is pitted against sitting Congress MP Milind Deora, Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant and Aam Aadmi Party’s Meera Sanyal.
Nandgaonkar has represented the Mazgaon constituency in the state Assembly for three terms since 1995. He had also handled the office of Maharashtra’s Home Minister (Rural) in 1999 for four months.
Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar too came forward in support of MNS leader Raj Thackeray. In a facebook post Pawar mentioned that Raj had built his party from the grassroots level while Uddhav had only inherited a party built by his father. He also took a jibe at Uddhav and criticised his inability to run the Shiv Sena after Balasaheb Thackeray’s demise which has resulted into the downfall of the party.
“It is Raj’s prerogative to decide whom to support after the national election and no one can advise or question his decision,” Pawar said in his post.