MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) didn’t contest the Lok Sabha polls but party head Raj Thackeray actively campaigned against the Modi government’s ‘misrule’. However, it is likely to contest at least some seats in the assembly election scheduled for next month.
Senior party leader Bala Nangaonkar said that all the office bearers and some of the key leaders from across the state had a day-long meeting today where political situation of each district was discussed. All the leaders are positive on contesting assembly election and we have surrendered all the powers to make a decision in this regard to Raj Thackeray.
Last week, at a similar meeting, some of the party leaders had opined against contesting polls. However, today the mood was very positive, Nandgaonkar added.
When asked how many seats were discussed and would the party try to strike an alliance with some other likeminded party, Nandgaonkar said that the things are expected to unfold as the tempo for the elections builds up.
The MNS, in its first assembly election in 2009, had won 13 seats while bagging almost 6% of votes across the state. It had also got good numbers in several local bodies. The party ruled Nashik Municipal Corporation for five years. While Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister party chief Raj Thackeray had visited the state in an official tour and praised Modi’s development agenda. That time MNS was being seen as the alternative to the Shiv Sena. However, the party couldn’t repeat its earlier performance in 2014. Its tally slipped to just 1 and vote share too slipped to just around 3 per cent. Its numbers in local bodies too weathered away.
Against this backdrop, Raj Thackeray adopted a strict anti-Modi stand and campaigned against the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha election. Though he could create a sensation by pulling huge crowds to his rallies, he failed to convert the crowd into votes and all the seats where he had campaigned went to the ruling coalition.
This defeat pushed the party further into an existential crisis. Attempts are being made to revive the party. The cadres are still enthusiastic and active at the local level. Participating in the election would give them a chance to prove their mettle in the political arena, said a party office-bearer.