MNS cheif Raj Thackeray
Having grabbed some attention by its aggressive stand against Pakistani artistes in Bollywood, the Raj Thackeray-led MNS is likely to raise similar emotive issues in the coming days to stay in the reckoning ahead of civic polls across the state, including the race to the prestigious Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
According political observers here, flagging the issue of Pakistani artistes alongside civic matters like pothole-ridden roads in the megapolis, forms part of the MNS's strategy to play on sentiments of the city dwellers, though the party rebuts such a suggestion.
MNS vice-president and spokesperson Vageesh Saraswat rejected as unfounded the criticism that its campaign against Pakistani artistes was based on political considerations. "We have raised the potholes issue and filed complaints against engineers of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) in all the 93 police stations in Mumbai. Our corporators Sandeep Deshpande and Manish Dhuri were arrested and sent to custody. They were entitled to bail, but did not apply for it, seeking to send out a message that to improve Mumbai, we are ready to go to jail," Saraswat told PTI.
Gearing up for civic polls, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has also taken certain steps to strengthen the organisational structure.
"In Mumbai, we have put one leader each in charge of two Assembly segments. Inefficient office-bearers have been replaced. In other cities like Nashik, Pune, we have identified the leader for each city and has also chosen the deputy. In each city, a woman leader has been assigned the task of strengthening the women's wing," Saraswat said.
Factoring in recent delimitation of wards, the party will also make changes in the work allotment to office-bearers and leaders.
Party supremo Raj Thackeray himself will visit each ward-level office in Mumbai and interact with office-bearers, MNS sources said, adding the party expects that common man can connect with the issues which are raised by it. "We will contest the elections on our own. If there is an offer for alliance, we are open to it," he said adding that the process of identifying candidates is being done.
Currently, MNS has 27 corporators in Mumbai civic body. However, the party fared poorly in the Assembly polls in 2014, falling far behind BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP. Civic polls in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, scheduled for early next year, are seen an an opportunity for the party to grab some space and remain in the reckoning in state politics.
MNS is planning to contest all corporations and field candidates in selected places for municipal councils and zilla parishads elections, party sources said.