MNS) is one-man army and the man is Raj Thackeray. When the ruling party literally had no opposition, when the opposition parties were clueless and dense, its Raj Thackeray who was vocal about every issue and had time and again took on ruling government. There is no strong opposition party in Maharashtra against BJP and Shiv Sena allied government. Most of the top-level leaders of Congress-NCP are under the fear of various investigations such as CBI, ED, etc. Here MNS already shown that they can be strong opposition by clearing stations in Mumbai, its Suburbs and Thane.aharashtra Navnirman Sena (
Raj Thackeray was one of the prominent leaders in Shiv Sena during 2002–04. His influence in party’s policies was tremendous and he was actually considered to be the successor of Bal Thackeray. But Bal Thackeray started promoting his own son Uddhav and purposely sidelined Raj, which lead to formation of a new political party MNS by Raj. MNS got some success in its initial days due to their ‘Sons-of-Soil’ agenda. Raj was seen as a promising leader. But in the latest elections, people have completely discarded him and his party. The reason was that the MNS could not stand on its words and they always started something and left half way, the Marathi Manoos started losing faith in his leader and he never tried to win the confidence of people.
The development is significant as Raj was not keen on contesting the assembly polls in Maharashtra and had called for a boycott of the assembly polls till the Election Commission agreed to conduct the assembly polls in the state with ballot papers instead of EVMs. Raj had met NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and other opposition leaders with the idea of a boycott of the assembly polls claiming that the polls held under EVMs were managed to favour the BJP. However, other opposition parties in the state were not keen to boycott the polls.
Raj has miserably failed to give a strong political programme to the masses and has bellied their expectations. Moreover, MNS doesn’t have a strong organisation base. There is no second leadership after Raj. Moreover, some of the prominent leaders of party have already left MNS and joined BJP due to Modi wave of 2014, not non-involvement of Raj in active politics.
They had very narrow agenda; the only itinerary of MNS is Marathi Manoos i.e. ‘Sons-of-Soil’. Raj has not understood that the Maharashtra’s youth has become cosmopolitan and their aspirations are changed. He can no longer have the same parochial attitude. Currently, Raj and party has no issues to talk about. Some agitations like toll ban and ban on Pakistani artists were not taken seriously. Though he is hopeful about his strong bounce back, people of Maharashtra have stopped taking him seriously. One sentence- Irrelevant issues raised by Raj Thackeray and his party leaders.
Since its inception, MNS tried creating divide between people based on their origin. “Don’t speak in Hindi or English” with “outsiders”. This worked in lower working class as this class always believes that their misfortune is because of somebody else. This was during 2006 to 2009 period. It’s always easy to convince this class in whatever way you can. After 2010, Modi was applauded for his developmental agenda in Gujarat. BJP too opted this model countrywide and this quickly became popular. “Good road, water, education, doing business, career development’ became the key words than “mother tongue, culture, region, religion’. This development agenda is much inclusive and does not discriminate anybody. Needless to say, this became popular in young voters that constitute huge population in state. Soon MNS found it very difficult to convince the people. They too opted for development agenda and implemented to some extent in Nashik but it didn’t work for some reasons. Previous election result proved the same-MNS is almost wiped out across the state. Maharashtra and its people- over all are not as extreme in language, culture etc compared to some other states. That does not mean they don’t have pride in that but fooling them in the name of these issues won’t work any longer. Shiv Sena is a classic example- Its one of the oldest regional party (1966)- ‘fighting’ for sons of soil issue but it took 29 years in 1995 when they got first chief minister. Again there, they did not get majority.
In spite of the entire ruckus, MNS has finally decided to contest the upcoming elections; the party is likely to contest around 100 seats. MNS will be concentrating on cities such as Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Pune, where it has been receiving significant support since its formation. There are indications that there may an informal alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Raj Thackeray is a firebrand leader. He won 13 assembly seats in 2009. Due to lack of organisation set up, party lost in 2014 election. However, they started attacking PM Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha election. In spite of Raj’s hard hitting attacks, Modi won in majority. Since political outfits of all shapes, sizes and geo-political foot prints have already announced a unified vision of ‘Defeat Modi’ for the 2019 LS polls, MNS type units can and will extract their pound of power from the wanna-be challengers. Be it Congress, which is fighting an existential battle along with the NCP or the Shiv Sena, MIM and the invisible left, which will even spill blood to stay relevant. In these circumstances the MNS is likely to bargain and get a few more seats than they would ever deserve and the Congress and NCP will part with those seats so they can survive politically to fight another day.
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