Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the posts weren’t official while his cousin and MNS chief Raj is expected to make a statement on the alliance offer to Sena today. File pic
'Will you merge the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) with the Shiv Sena? That's the question Sena workers have been asking MNS chief Raj Thackeray after his close aide Bala Nandgaonkar made an attempt to forge an unconditional alliance with the Sena. Sena supremo and Raj's cousin Uddhav rejected the offer. A widely circulated social media post by a Sena leader is echoing the cadre's sentiment for a merger.
Expressing themselves online and in conversations with the media, several Sena workers have also said that the merger would prove MNS's resolve of resurrecting a common cause – the welfare of the Marathi manoos – the two warring cousins have been pursuing through politics. They have said that the time is up for MNS to gain any ground against Sena and hence, it would be better if they joined hands.
Is MNS BJP's Plan B?
Shiv Sainiks continue to doubt the credibility of MNS saying that the party played into hands of the BJP in the general elections, when it extended support to the Narendra Modi-led BJP. Considering its short history, MNS continues to be considered a pawn in the hands of the state's ruling party. It was accused of being hand in glove with the Congress-NCP combine in 2009, and since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, it is widely termed as the BJP's 'puppet'.
"Does anyone deny that MNS is a plan B of the BJP? The MNS leadership, which was in deep love with Modi, is now talking a pact with the Sena. Is the MNS playing a pawn to the BJP for weakening the Sena which has severed ties with the BJP?" pondered the popular social media post by a Sena leader.
"Mumbai will believe in the MNS only if stays away from contesting polls. Or else it will be interpreted as BJP-prompted politics. And if MNS is so serious about the cause of locals, then it should merge itself with the Sena. We haven't forgotten that the MNS had split the Sena for no reason and the merger would be a corrective and productive step."
The social media posts said MNS should not field any candidate in BMC polls if the Raj-led breakaway outfit were to prove its credibility and establish itself as a real friend of Shiv Sena.
Uddhav said these posts were not official, but sources in the party said the statements reflected the thought of Sena's rank and file. The Sena president did not forget to reiterate that Sena would fight on its own and not have any alliance. As for MNS, Raj Thackeray will make his position public at a party workers' programme at Dadar's Shivaji Mandir today. He is expected to comment on the alliance proposal that was sent to the Sena.
MNS leader Bala Nandgaokar
MNS leader Bala Nandgaokar, who had gone to Uddhav with the alliance proposal said on Tuesday that he would continue his efforts to bring the cousins together. "I had given my word to the late Balasaheb (Thackeray) that I would keep on trying to get the cousins together. And I don't care if it ends my political career," he told a news channel. He said he had made a similar attempt before the Assembly polls as well. Speaking about a recent conversation in which Sena did not take up any offer, he said Raj had made seven calls to Uddhav. "I was witness to three calls. Raj Thackeray and Sanjay Raut (Sena leader) had discussed the issue before Sena-BJP pact came to an end (on July 26)," he said.