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Why do some still say, wah Raj Thackeray!

Updated on: 15 April,2024 06:43 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Projections go wilder as some observers say that Shinde’s failure will lead Raj to take over the Shiv Sena

Why do some still say, wah Raj Thackeray!

Raj Thackeray has declared unconditional support to PM Modi in the Lok Sabha polls. File pic

Dharmendra JorePolitics is all about possibilities. I came across some while receiving gyan from political pundits, who were unanimous in their projection. It was about Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray’s future course, post his declaration of unconditional support to PM Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections. His proclamation evoked mixed reactions. The opinion was divided between pro-Modi groups (reaction: Well done, Raj!) and anti-Modi federation (reaction: Et tu, Raj?). The MNS rank appeared unhappy because their ‘saheb’ hadn’t demanded a due share in power, whereas other outfits, smaller in numbers (as compared to BJP, not MNS) and led by not-so-taller leaders in politics (for many Raj is tall, dark and handsome) had gained much in bargain from the BJP. Other than these people, there was a huge gathering at Shivaji Park and the Raj lovers who heard him from home—that the leader left confused, happy, upset and angry, depending on how the respective individuals felt that Padva night.

And, there were some pundits, who shared their understanding with me. I’m sharing it with you, because, as I said earlier, nothing is impossible in politics of post-2019 Maharashtra. As Raj very critically said in his Gudi Padva speech that the journalists wrote whatever they felt (baseless and figments of imagination), I swear this is the exclusive take of his non-journalist observers. The pundits said Raj avoided fielding his own partymen because he was not sure of winning (even with BJP’s support?). They said the MNS chief caressed his asmita (pride) by rejecting CM Eknath Shinde’s offer to let MNS candidates contest on Shiv Sena’s symbol (bow and arrow). And then, Raj upped his quotient at the iconic park as he looked down upon the Shinde Sena, saying that he had ‘earned’ his ‘engine’, the election symbol (unlike Shinde who got it from the Election Commission), and that he would not work under any boss (other than Balasaheb Thackeray, and that he had given one more person (his cousin Uddhav) an opportunity to be his boss). According to pundits, Raj would watch out for Shinde Sena’s show in the Lok Sabha elections, which in some way or the other would impact seat-sharing for this year’s Assembly elections. Raj would also be watching Ajit Pawar’s NCP for the Lok Sabha yield.

Popular perception is that the Lok Sabha results would influence the way the BJP would proceed further in the alliance.   So, to benefit Raj, at least one among the existing partners should lose its significance in the alliance before the Assembly elections. This is where Raj would come into play in the open, said the pundits. Why? Because, if Uddhav Thackeray—the biggest in terms of the number of contestants in MVA—returns with good numbers and gives Shinde a drubbing, the BJP would need another Thackeray to be there in the NDA, prominent and active to execute the next scheme of things. 

The punditry went wilder. If the CM’s faction repeats its drubbing in the Vidhan Sabha polls, Raj would have an opportunity to take over the Shiv Sena, said one of the pundits. And what about Shinde? Will it happen so soon? “Can’t say. But of course, the takeover should happen only when Shinde and like-minded people take such a proposal to Raj,” added another pundit. However, the projection wasn’t unconditional like Raj’s support to PM Modi. Condition one: CM Shinde should fail in both Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls. Condition Two: The BJP should return to power in New Delhi.

More of BJP

Like elsewhere in the state and country, the BJP aborigines in Thane have demanded to prevent injustice to them. They have upped their ante to oppose the party’s plan of giving candidature to the ‘outsiders’. The BJP has made Thane a matter of prestige. It wants CM Shinde to concede it in seat-sharing. The BJP old-timers want local MLA Sanjay Kelkar to be made the party nominee. The seniors who are authorised to decide the candidates seem to be in favour of the former MP and import from undivided NCP, Sanjeev Naik. Sanjeev is the son of Navi Mumbai’s political kingpin Ganesh Naik, who shifted his loyalty to the BJP five years ago, but hasn’t been given much except the membership of the Assembly. Going by Kelkar and old-timers’ nature, they might not press much if the party seniors persist in view of PM Modi’s 400-plus target, but the local younger lot that has been working shoulder to shoulder with the older generation, might not approve of the selection.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore

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