The Shiv Sena which had lost election in five constituencies of the state due to the division of Marathi votes in 2009 general election is confident of performing better in the current Lok Sabha election. Last time, the MNS had played spoilsport by fielding candidates against Shiv Sena in 12 Lok Sabha seats which resulted into the division of Marathi votes. According to sources, Marathi voters have voted for Shiv Sena to avoid the split of votes.
Voters have realised that Congress will benefit if they vote for MNS. Marathi voters had huge expectations from the MNS but the party has let them down. The MNS has been unable gain foothold in other areas of the state and has managed to become only a Mumbai centric party. People are also unhappy with the leadership of Raj Thackeray who manages to draw huge crowds but fails to work at the grassroots level. Thus the MNS strategy to cut votes of Shiv Sena has backfired this time.
Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena candidate from South Mumbai said, “This time more and more Marathi voters voted for us as they are unhappy with the double standards of MNS. Love for Balasaheb Thackeray forced Marathi people to vote for Shiv Sena. MNS fielded candidate against us to split Marathi votes but voters are aware about the reality now.”
Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena candidate from Mumbai North West said, “In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections Marathi people voted for MNS which made Congress task easy. But this time Marathi voters voted for Shiv Sena in large numbers to avoid split of votes.”
MNS has fielded three candidates in Mumbai — Bala Nandgaonkar (Mumbai South), director-actor Mahesh Manjrekar (Mumbai North West) and Aditya Shirodkar (Mumbai South Central). Others are Raju Patil (Kalyan-Dombivili), Pradeep Pawar (Nashik), Deepak Paigude (Pune), Suresh Mhatre (Bhiwandi) and Abhijit Panse (Thane).
According to senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, “Unlike 2009, response to MNS from voters in Mumbai was lukewarm. Although MNS has a following, it was not strong enough to make a dent against candidates fielded by BJP-led alliance. I do not see MNS defeating any of our alliance candidates in Mumbai or elsewhere.”