"You cannot judge yet how this election will turn out," says MNS leader

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray may have chosen to support the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, but he admits to being unsure about the election results.

“I have never seen an election like this. If there is a Modi wave, why has BJP leader Gopinath Munde been confined to his constituency? You cannot judge yet how this election will turn out,” Mr. Thackeray said in an interview to The Hindu. Mr. Thackeray’s party is the main political rival of the Shiv Sena, which is an NDA ally.

Mr. Thackeray clarified that his support to the BJP was entirely dependant on Mr. Modi being the PM candidate. If the NDA decided on another candidate under pressure from allies, his offer would not stand, he said. “I am clear I will support the BJP only because of Mr. Modi,” he said.

On his criticism of Mr. Modi for being too pro-Gujarat earlier this year, Mr. Thackeray said he merely offered him “friendly advice.” Support to Mr. Modi did not mean he would not speak up on issues. “If I see something I do not like, I will say it,” Mr. Thackeray said.

In the run-up to the polls, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari reached out to Mr. Thackeray straining the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.


RAJ THACKERAY formed the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena after breaking away from the Shiv Sena eight years ago. In 2009, the party was a game-changer, splitting the saffron vote. In the ongoing election, Mr. Thackeray has chosen to support the NDA’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi but fielded candidates against the Shiv Sena. In an interview to Priyanka Kakodkar, he says his support is for Mr. Modi, not the BJP. Yet, he admits to being unsure about the results, despite the Modi wave. He blames his cousin Uddhav Thackeray for triggering the slugfest between the Shiv Sena and MNS during the campaign.

You have supported Narendra Modi. Do you see a Modi wave?

I have never seen an election like this. There seems to be a Modi wave but you cannot predict anything. If there is a Modi wave in Maharashtra, why has a senior BJP politician like Gopinath Munde been confined to his constituency? You cannot judge yet how this election will turn out.

When the BJP’s Nitin Gadkari asked you to be part of the NDA, the Shiv Sena claimed he was acting in his personal capacity. But isn’t it true that even Gopinath Munde made a similar offer?

Mr. Munde met me several months before Mr. Gadkari and asked me to join the NDA. But both he and Mr. Gadkari had no solution to offer on how the alliance should take place. I knew that they were asking just for the heck of it.

If the NDA forms the government with another candidate as Prime Minister, will you still support it?

No. I am clear that I will support the BJP only because of Mr. Modi.

Gujarat asked Maharashtra to return drought aid worth Rs. 22 crore given in 2013 by a milk cooperative. How can you trust Mr. Modi not to discriminate between Gujarat and other States?

States often fight over such issues, including water sharing, but national issues are different. A person who has reached this level will not think like this. It is my hope and expectation that he will treat each State fairly.

In January, you criticised Mr. Modi for his focus on Gujarat and for saying Maharashtra is the maternal home of Gujaratis. What then made you decide to support him?

It was not criticism, it was friendly advice. No one can dispute that Narendra Modi is the need of the hour for the country. But if there is something that happens which I do not like, I will say it.

You and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray made personal attacks on each other during campaign rallies in this election. You said Balasaheb Thackeray was served oily food by his family and you started sending him chicken soup. Do you regret these statements?

I have no regrets about what I said. Uddhav Thackeray started it by saying I had stabbed Balasaheb in the back. I had said nothing about Uddhav for two years. I responded by saying if Balasaheb thought I was a traitor he would not accept chicken soup from me. And if Balasaheb did not see me as a traitor, why should others talk about it?