Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has been making frequent visits to the city these days, and those in the know within the party reveal the reason is to strengthen the political outfit in preparation for the 2014 assembly election.
These MNS leaders said Thackeray’s efforts are now directed towards making major advances in the city and its vicinity in the assembly election after the remarkable success of the party in last year’s municipal election.
Political experts also see Thackeray’s frequent visits as a possible attempt to strengthen the leadership in the city in order to use it to gain a foothold in Marathwada, which does not have a strong political leader since former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s death.
2 visits in 2 weeks
Thackeray was in the city for three days this week and for two days last week. The official party stand on Thackerays’ visits was that these were personal in nature, but others said the MNS chief utilised his time to meet party officials to discuss ways of increasing the party strength in the city.
“The main reason behind the frequent visits is to focus on the 2014 assembly election, with the goal being election of the maximum number of party MLAs from the city,” Sachin Gole, a party worker from Mumbai, said.
MNS city unit vice-president Ajay Shinde said Thackeray had great hopes from the city as the number of MNS corporators elected in the last civic poll here was next only to the figure for Nashik.
“Pune is Saheb’s most trusted place, as after Nashik it is the city that elected the maximum number of corporators from MNS,” Shinde said. “Therefore, Pune is currently the most important place for Thackeray and the party strength will be increased here with focus on the 2014 assembly election.”
City to Marathwada
Political expert Prakash Pawar said Thackeray might have plans to use the city leadership to make inroads into Marathwada, where a leadership vacuum exists after the demise of Congress strongman Deshmukh.
“Instead of starting from scratch and to create new leadership in Marathwada, Thackeray may use the experience of the MNS leaders in the city to build the party base in the region,” Pawar said.