In a U-turn, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has ruled out contesting the forthcoming state Assembly elections, saying that he does not want to "limit" himself to one constituency.
"The entire state of Maharashtra is my constituency and I do not want to limit myself to just one constituency," Raj told reporters here last night.
After MNS received a drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections, Thackeray had announced that he and his party would contest the Assembly elections in Maharashtra. Raj had also reportedly said that he would become the Chief Minister if his party romps home in the electoral battle.
"People have a lot of love for and expectations from our party. If the mandate is for MNS, I will not hesitate to lead it," he had said. The MNS head, who was in the city to finalise candidates from Vidarbha for the state Assembly elections due in October, said his party will field about 40-45 candidates for the 62 seats in the region.
To a question, Raj defended Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan skipping Prime Minister Narendra Modi's function in Nagpur last week. "If a Chief Minister is hooted by political workers of a rival party and the Prime Minister looks helpless then the same thing would have happened under any situation. If a Congress PM would have done this to a BJP Chief Minister, the result would have been almost the same," Raj said.
The hooting was not spontaneous but orchestrated by senior BJP leaders, he alleged. MNS, which had declared support to Modi for the Prime Minister's post and fielded just nine candidates, mostly against Shiv Sena, in LS polls, had suffered a wash-out. Many of its candidates had even lost their deposits.
Meanwhile, his estranged cousin and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had said that he had not given a thought to whether he should contest the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections though he respects the sentiments of his party-men, who were demanding that he be declared as the chief ministerial candidate. Nobody in the Thackeray family has ever contested an election or held any government post.