Asked if he would help the BJP form the government, Sharad Sonawane, who has won from Junnar in Pune district, said the decision would be made by Raj Thackeray
The lone soldier of the MNS in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Sharad Sonawane, laid feverish speculation of him leaving the party in favour of the BJP to rest yesterday, saying he wasn’t going anywhere.
Raj Thackeray and Sharad Sonawane (in white shirt) at the former’s residence, Krishna Kunj, in Shivaji Park yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Asked about the rumours, Sonawane, who won from Junnar in Pune district, said, “I have won on the MNS symbol and will stay with the party.” On whether he would support the BJP in forming the government, he said, “Whatever Rajsaheb decides, I will follow. If he asks me to support them, I will.”
The rumours had gained currency because under the provisions of the Anti-Defection Act, elected members of a party are not disqualified if more than two-thirds of them decide to merge with another party. Since Sonawane was the lone elected MLA from MNS, his joining the BJP would not be grounds for disqualification.
The MNS, which was reduced to a single seat in these Assembly polls from the 13 it held earlier, called a meeting of all the defeated MLAs and senior party functionaries at Raj Thackeray’s residence, Krishna Kunj, in Shivaji Park.
The meeting went on for over an hour and, according to a senior MNS leader, Raj didn’t talk much because he was frustrated with the election results. Party leaders, however, decided to work on the organisation.
Sonawane and Raj also spoke for some time, but no decision was taken on their course of action in the Assembly. Raj, who is upset with his party’s performance, is expected to take some tough action soon.
Gadkari as CM?
Meanwhile, in the BJP, senior state leader and former party state president, Sudhir Mungantiwar, while talking to a private news channel, claimed that state leaders want Union minister Nitin Gadkari to be the chief minister.
Gadkari’s name has been doing the rounds for some time now, but he has said himself that he is happy in Delhi and is not looking for a role in the state. Devendra Fadnavis, the current BJP state president, is the front-runner for the CM’s post.