The current verbal exchanges between BJP State President Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray over BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi appeared to have cleared the repulsion Modi is likely to face from MNS in Maharashtra. Through commenting that Modi always talk about Gujarat and being a prime ministerial candidate he should resign from his post as Gujarat Chief Minister, Thackeray has made his intentions clear that there will be no room for support to Modi as prime ministerial candidate post Lok Sabha elections.
On the other end, Fadnavis too made no air over Thackeray’s comments and sent out clear message to the latter that his advice is not required. Fadnavis retaliation could have fumed Thackeray further.
However, the situation was altogether different few months before when there were rumours of him backing Narendra Modi. Such rumours had gladdened the heart of Modi backers.
His attack on Modi for praising Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Mumbai instead of Shivaji and not quitting the post of Gujarat chief minister after he was declared BJP’s PM candidate have not come as a surprise to the keen observers of Maharashtra politics.
After UP with 80 Lok Sabha seats, Maharashtra comes second with 48 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP-Shiv Sena combine was hoping to sweep the state by launching an attack on the corruption and inefficiency of the Congress-NCP combine, which has been in power since 1999.
The BJP was hoping that the MNS led by Raj Thackeray would back the combine. Raj Thackeray’s MNS spoiled the chances of the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state. He got 13 per cent of the votes and ensured the defeat of BJP-SS combine in 11 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress-NCP alliance won all those 11 seats.
Some analysts believe that Raj can defeat the BJP-SS combine in at least 10-15 Lok Sabha seats this too. His attack on Modi has come as a huge relief for the Congress-NCP combine, which is facing an uphill task in the Lok Sabha polls.
Raj Thackeray commands a big following in Mumbai, Konkan and Western Maharashtrra. He is also trying to make inroads into Marathwada and Vidarbha.
A clever politician and an efficient organiser, Raj Thackeray knows how to play his cards carefully. According to the people who know him he maintains a good rapport with both the Congress and the NCP.
Even though Raj Thackeray is not saying anything on a possible alliance or some kind of support to the BJP-SS or the Congress – NCP combine, analysts feel that he will go alone. The MNS is also maintaining that it will not join any alliance.