Maharashtra: Raj Thackeray fails to sway voters towards Congress-NCP

ZEESHAN SHAIKH
Three local MNS activists were booked for allegedly thrashing a BJP worker over a forwarded message on Whatsapp, which they found offensive.

THE RAJ Thackeray factor failed to sway voters in favour of the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra eight of the 10 constituencies where the MNS chief held rallies voted for the BJP-Shiv Sena. The two remaining seats went to the NCP, but the party s Udayanraje Bhosale already had an iron grip on Satara, and may have had some influence in Raigad.

While campaigning, Thackeray had held rallies in favour of Congress-NCP in Nanded, Solapur, Kolhapur, Satara. Pune, Raigad, Mumbai South, Mumbai North East, Maval and Nashik.

On Thursday, he termed the results as beyond rationale .

Thackeray, who floated the MNS in 2006 after splitting from Shiv Sena, hit the state s electoral stage with a bang, winning 13 seats in the state Assembly in 2009. However, since then, his party has been decline, losing members as well as popularity of the 13 MLAs elected in 2009, only three are still associated with the party, and the MNS currently has no legislator in the state Assembly after its lone MLA, who won in 2014, switched over to the Sena.

The MNS chief s change in stance from being pro-Modi to anti-Modi was timed to ride the supposed dissatisfaction against the Modi government after demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. It was believed that Thackeray could still manage to move crowds based on his personal charisma and oratory.

His decision to ally with the Congress-NCP has failed to bear any results. With the rout of the Congress-NCP in the state, MNS insiders say that they would need to rethink their alignment.

Thackeray had hoped to strike a bargain with the Congress-NCP for the upcoming Assembly elections so that his party could be in the running for a few seats in the Maharashtra Assembly. But MNS insiders said this would have to be reviewed.

MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande blamed the Congress-NCP, stating that they failed to capitalise on the MNS factor. Besides, the alliance could not handle Vikhe-Patil and Mohite-Patil well, he added.