Maharashtra Assembly Elections: MNS may prove to be dark horse
While Congress and NCP are planning to part ways if the BJP and Shiv Sena do so, MNS has left the cat among the pigeons by delaying its screening of candidates
These are interesting times in Maharashtra politics. Despite the assembly elections inching closer, the tussle among constituents of both the ruling and opposition alliances showed no sign of coming to an end even by last evening.
Sources say a line of discussion between the Raj Thackeray-led MNS and the BJP is open and the two parties could tie up if the Sena-BJP alliance breaks down. File pic
BJP chief Amit Shah continued to talk tough, NCP and Congress seem set to emulate the BJP and Shiv Sena if their alliance breaks down, and MNS chief Raj Thackeray has suddenly become a key figure again.
Speculation is mounting that the MNS could replace the Sena in the saffron alliance if the BJP and Sena part ways. The language used by BJP chief Amit Shah in Kolhapur yesterday is being cited as an indication of the tough posture adopted by the party.
Shah clearly said that a BJP government would be formed after the elections and added that since his party had moved two steps forward, the Shiv Sena should do the same.
Stating that he had asked the state leaders to resolve the seat-sharing issue with the Sena, he added the caveat that “there cannot be a resolution at the cost of self-respect”. A senior BJP leader said Shah’s language said it all about the party’s stand on seat sharing.
Reports of the BJP having issued a 12-hour ultimatum to the Sena were also doing the rounds yesterday, but no leader was willing to confirm this.
Congress leaders told mid-day yesterday that they are keeping a close eye on developments in the saffron camp, adding that they would end their alliance with the NCP if the BJP and Sena decide to part ways. “If their alliance breaks down, we will also go it alone. We do not want to shoulder the burden of the NCP, which faces more problems than us.
If there is an anti-incumbency wave, it is against the NCP more than us as most of its ministers are facing corruption charges and have been named in scams. We are banking on CM Prithviraj Chavan, whose image as a clean administrator is a big advantage for us,” said a senior Congress leader.
The Congress is also worried after reports surfaced that a section of the NCP has devised a strategy to defeat 50 to 60 Congress candidates by fielding rebels in their constituencies. Sensing trouble, CM Chavan had said on Wednesday that the alliance should be based on honest efforts and that the politics of backstabbing should not be allowed to find a place in it.
The big winner in all this could be MNS’ Raj Thackeray. After being nearly written off by political pundits, the party has left the cat among the pigeons after Raj Thackeray returned to Mumbai from Aurangabad on Monday, cutting short the screening of candidates for the assembly polls.
While cough and cold was cited as the reason for his return, speculation is mounting that he deliberately put the screening on hold as a line of discussion was still open about a possible alliance between the MNS and the BJP and that the MNS could replace the Sena in the saffron alliance.
Sonia, Rahul to address rallies
The Congress has decided to give a boost to its campaign for the assembly polls and has urged party chief Sonia Gandhi to address a few rallies.
According to an office bearer, the Congress will hold six rallies one each in six revenue divisions in the state which will be addressed by Sonia Gandhi or party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The party will also hold a rally in Tuljapur, home to the shrine of goddess Tulja Bhavani, on September 30 in response to NCP’s rally in Kolhapur on Tuesday, the Congress office bearer added.
The number of seats won by the MNS in the 2009 Maharashtra elections