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Is the future of MNS in doldrums?

After 10 of its candidates lost in the elections, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s prospects in the assembly elections look bleak

Before the Lok Sabha 2014 elections, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray had claimed that his party will show Shiv Sena (SS) its place. However, the outcome of the elections, where the party has not been able to save any of its 10 seats, has left them shame-faced. Political analysts say that this is a warning bell for MNS and the party should now come up with a proper strategy or else the upcoming assembly elections will prove more damaging for the party.

Raj Thackeray
Some experts feel MNS Chief Raj Thackeray lacks vision

Speaking to sunday mid-day, political analyst Prakash Bal said, “The defeat of MNS candidates proves that the party has not done any work in the past. One cannot garner votes by giving speeches. It’s high time that the MNS chief and his leaders pull up their socks, otherwise the future of the party will be at stake during the state assembly elections which are just five or six months away.”

It should be noted that during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, a majority of MNS candidates had got more than 1.4 lakh votes and it was because of this huge number of votes that many Shiv Sena candidates had lost during that time. However the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that were announced on Friday have left many surprised. Political experts point out two reasons they think can be the reason people did not vote for the party. One of the reasons, they say, is that there was confusion created in the minds of voters by the MNS chief when he said that they would support the Modi government, if his party members are elected. Secondly, they feel that MNS leaving the agitation midway against the toll booths also went against them.

According to Bal, it was the former reason that a majority of voters decided to vote for the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party candidates instead. “Also, the MNS took up the toll booth issue before the elections but left it midway. This is where people decided that it’s better to bring a stable government. I think the MNS will get marginalised in the upcoming state assembly elections as the NaMo wave will work in favour of BJP-SS. If you need to lead a political party, having a proper program, agenda and planning is a must. I doubt whether Raj Thackeray has any vision or political strategy the way other parties have,” he added.

However, another political analyst Dr Surendra Jondhale, professor, department of civics and politics at University of Mumbai said that even though the MNS have lost in the Lok Sabha elections, the party cannot be ignored during Assembly elections. Dr Jondhale said, “Raj Thackeray contested in this Lok Sabha elections for the sake of it because if MNS would have not contested, it would have been politically suicidal for them as it is an important party in state politics. Not contesting the elections would have sent a wrong message to their supporters.”

When questioned about the future of MNS during the coming Assembly elections, the expert said, “Raj is an important player in Maharashtra politics and BJP will put more pressure on Sena saying that MNS should be included in the alliance or at least, given space to contest from the place where it is strongest, so that the winning number of candidates can increase during assembly elections.”

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