Continuing to maintain an ambivalent stance over a possible alliance between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), MNS chief Raj Thackeray on September 19, 2022 said that reports of the two parties formally coming together were only emanating from the press and nowhere else.
“I have been hearing reports about the BJP and MNS coming together only from media,” said Mr. Thackeray, who is currently on a five-day tour of the Vidarbha region to rebuild his party’s moribund organisation there.
Mr. Thackeray, who had held a meeting of his office-bearers a day before, told his partymen that if anyone who wanted to become big in a particular region had to fight with ‘established parties’ there. The BJP is the dominant party in Nagpur while both the saffron party as well as the opposition Congress have strongholds in the Vidarbha region, where the MNS virtually lacks any presence.
Given his current closeness with the BJP and its top leaders, Mr. Thackeray’s intent on contesting against “established parties” has posed a question mark on whether the MNS chief will go it alone in the upcoming civic polls or tacitly ally with the saffron party.
Clarifying his remarks made to his partymen during the closed-door meeting on September 18, 2022, Mr. Thackeray, speaking to reporters on September 19, 2022 said: “Earlier, the Congress was the established party in Vidarbha. Then, the BJP fought them to become the dominant party. So, if they (BJP) are the established party in Vidarbha today, then one will have to fight against them to carve out a toehold.”
Despite this, Mr. Thackeray met BJP State president Chandrashekhar Bawankule and is said to have conferred with the latter for nearly an hour and a half. The MNS chief had met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday and had lauded his work.
When questioned about his bonhomie with BJP leaders, Mr. Thackeray explained that politics was different from personal relations.
Meanwhile, the MNS chief criticised the sudden twists and turns in Maharashtra’s politics, hitting out at both the BJP and the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress.
While taking jibes at Devendra Fadnavis’ early morning oath-taking ceremony with NCP’s Ajit Pawar in 2019, he reserved his harshest censure for his estranged cousin – Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
Stating that there was no power sharing formula between the Sena and the BJP as has been claimed by Uddhav Thackeray, Mr. Raj Thackeray said that the former ought to have raised objections on this count before PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the election campaign of the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly poll itself.
“Why didn’t you [Uddhav Thackeray] question Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah when they had been clearly saying that Devendra Fadnavis would be the next CM of Maharashtra. Later, after the election [2019 Assembly poll], you suddenly form an alliance with the NCP and Congress and insult the people’s mandate,” said the MNS chief.
Questioning why the Vedanta-Foxconn deal had moved out of Maharashtra, Mr. Thackeray demanded that a full probe into the affair must be initiated by the current government.
“It appears that Maharashtra is not paying attention to industries. I think we have become complacent given that investment naturally had been flowing into the State for so long… It is important to know where we slipped [alluding to Foxconn issue],” he said.
In a bid to overhaul the party organisation, Mr. Thackeray dissolved all top MNS posts in Nagpur while stating that a new working committee would be constituted soon in which youngsters would be given a chance.