Defection season opens with big gains for MNS

Senior Shiv Sena leader Ganesh Satpute joins MNS along with 30 supporters; party chief Raj Thackeray and city unit general secy Anil Shidore claim many more from Sena, NCP, BJP in Pune and rest of state want to cross over

The civic elections that are slated in February seem to have brought about evident changes within political parties, as prominent politicians have begun shifting loyalties. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray, who was in the city yesterday, said that the party had received several applications from poll aspirants who wanted to join the party. 

Old sena to new sena: Ganesh Satpute (right) with MNS president 
Raj Thackeray yesterday. Satpute denied his move had anything to do 
with civic elections. Pic/Krunal Gosavi 

Senior politician Ganesh Satpute quit the Shiv Sena along with 30 supporters and joined the MNS yesterday in Thackeray's presence. MNS has been seeing victories in the recent municipal council elections. The Khed municipal council and two more councils in the Konkan have been won by the MNS and that is the reason a lot of candidates from other parties seem to be approaching it, feel insiders.

Political analysts say that after 50 per cent of the seats in the upcoming civic polls came to be reserved for women, there has been insecurity among politicians from several parties. It is learnt that Satpute's wife was keen on contesting the civic election as a Shiv Sena candidate from Lokmanya Nagar, but the ward has been given to the BJP. Satpute denied his wife had any intention to contest from the ward and said his decision to join the MNS had nothing to do with the elections.

"I was in touch with the MNS senior leaders for several months and I am glad it has finally worked," he said.
Thackeray said he was flooded with applications from members of other political parties wanting to join the MNS.
"I am now playing the role of Shabri in the Ramayana and tasting each fruit to decide whether it is suitable for consumption. There are many applications from the city as well as the entire state. I can't exactly quantify but it is a sizeable number," Thackeray said.

Anil Shidore, city MNS general secretary, said, "There are several applications not only from the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) but also from the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is too early to comment right now. Let the party chief take a decision on them." 

According to NCP sources from the industrial township of Pimpri-Chinchwad, there are many aspirants who are in a mood to change parties. Similar problems are being seen in the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Everyone is waiting for the announcement of their party's formal list of candidates for the Pimpri-Chichwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) election.

Pawar to party men: Remain united
IN a recent visit to the city after the NCP-sponsored bandh, party chief Sharad Pawar thanked party workers for their unity in supporting him. Hinting at the dangers of defection, Pawar said, "The coming days are difficult and all of you should remain united."

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