BJP-Shinde & MNS Politics: Amid the suddenly changing political equations in Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) seems to be growing closer to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who are contesting the Mumbai polls with Maratha The first can prove to be an important factor. Since the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in June, his cousin and arch-rival Raj Thackeray’s growing closeness to Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has sparked talk of a new political alliance for the upcoming Maharashtra elections.
Shinde and Fadnavis met Raj Thackeray at the MNS Deepotsav program at Shivaji Park on the eve of Diwali. The growing closeness between the trio became more evident when they arrived together from the MNS chief’s residence to the Shivaji Park venue. Raj Thackeray had written a letter to Fadnavis last month urging him to withdraw the name of BJP candidate from Andheri East assembly in favor of late Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke’s wife. The BJP later withdrew the name of its candidate, for which Raj Thackeray thanked Fadnavis.
Is a new political alliance ready in Maharashtra?
During the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by the Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray had raised the issue of loudspeakers in mosques and announced his move to Ayodhya. After the change of power in Maharashtra, leaders of BJP and Shinde faction met Raj Thackeray on various occasions. Shinde and Fadnavis also met the MNS chief separately. Raj Thackeray also wrote a letter to his “friend” Fadnavis praising him for setting an example of loyalty and commitment to his party by taking over as the deputy chief minister of the state. However, each side has declined to comment officially on a possible tie-up in the state. Raju Patil, the lone MNS MLA, said that after Fadnavis, Shinde met Raj Thackeray at the Deepotsav event. He said that he has come closer to the heart, but that he will act as per the management.
MNS can be linked with BJP
Talks of a new political alliance between the BJP and the MNS are gaining momentum after the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction forged an alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The possibility of this scenario is visible at a time when municipal elections, especially the crucial Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, are around the corner. Sujatha Anandan, author of ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat – How Shiv Sena Changed Mumbai Forever’, said it is clear that Raj Thackeray’s MNS will go with the BJP as it is not a threat to the party. More importantly, Anandan said Raj Thackeray’s politics have worked against Uddhav Thackeray since he parted ways with the Shiv Sena in 2006. Ketan Bhosale, associate professor at Mumbai University’s Sathee College, said Raj Thackeray was leaning towards Hindutva two years ago, which is the similar ideology of BJP and Shinde faction.
The MNS was founded in 2006 after Raj Thackeray left the Shiv Sena over the issue of who should be the political successor to Bal Thackeray. He raised the issue of son of the soil, the agenda on which the Shiv Sena was formed in 1966. The MNS won seven seats in Mumbai in its first municipal elections in 2007, followed by 27 in 2012. However, it won only seven seats in 2017.
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