Maharashtra rejects Raj Thackeray's brand of politics (State Election Analysis)
Posted on May 16 2014 | IANS
By Quaid Najmi, Mumbai, May 16 : At one shot, millions of Maharashtra voters have dumped the chauvinistic politics of Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, who often resorted to thuggish ways like vandalising toll booths to prove its point, and came all out for his estranged cousin Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena, the votes it polled only helping to undercut the Congress-NCP alliance.
A majority of the 10 MNS candidates were on the verge of forfeiting their election deposits.
"This was quite expected as under the garb of regional nationalism and sons-of-the-soil policy, the MNS was attempting to build itself on a narrow parochialistic platform. It has clearly failed," contended a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Mumbai, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The bigger loss for MNS is its claim over the late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray's legacy - at one shot, the voters have proclaimed that Uddhav Thackeray is its true inheritor.
Contrary to claims from various quarters, including MNS and some from within Shiv Sena, after the death of Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray has effectively proved first time that he is truly the party supremo.
"If you want to do political business in Maharashtra, you have to contact Uddhav Thackeray, he calls the shots here along with BJP," said a senior leader of Republican Party of India, which is part of the BJP-led 'Grand Alliance' in Maharashtra.
For the MNS, largely comprising of breakaway or disgruntled former Shiv Sainiks, the new challenge will be to keep its flock together, at least till the Maharashtra assembly elections, due in October.
"For Raj, the situation is akin to 'Begani shaadi me, Abdullah diwana' and the prospective 'Kingmaker' has been reduced to a political pauper," commented a Mumbai Congress leader.
Reluctantly agreeing to comment on the developments, MNS vice president Vageesh Saraswat denied that his party had entered into any political deal with the BJP.
"We had put up all candidates with the intention of winning... we humbly accept the peoples' verdict. We have always been alone and shall continue to go it alone in the future elections," Saraswat told IANS.
The latest vote counting trends have revealed that the MNS may have actually cut into the votes of the Congress, which benefitted the Shiv Sena-BJP candidates.
In most cases, winning margins are almost equal to the losing margin of Congress-Nationalist Congress Party which has been grabbed by the MNS though the final figures would reveal more.
Some party insiders also feel that in the wake of the drubbing, MNS may have to carry out a drastic soul-searching before the assembly elections.
They pointed out that last week, Raj Thackeray ordered the grassroots workers to carry out booth-wise analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the MNS in 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, and the 2014 Lok Sabha verdict, to prepare itself for the forthcoming assembly polls in October.
Some are of the opinion that the top party leadership, including Raj Thackeray may have to review their own personal styles of aggressive words and deeds as that has been clearly dismissed by the people in 2014.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])