MNS leaders want Raj Thackeray as CM candidate

MNS chief Raj Thackeray. MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

The top leadership of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Thursday passed a resolution recommending projection of Raj Thackeray as the chief ministerial candidate in the Assembly elections due later this year. MNS chief Raj Thackeray skipped the meeting, leaving it to the party leaders to take a final call on his leadership.

“The people of India gave the mandate for an individual rather than a party in the Lok Sabha elections. People are attracted to personalities who they think will deliver. If this is how people think, we are more than willing to ask Rajsaheb to accept CM candidature,” MNS legislator Pravin Darekar said after the meeting of party leaders at Matunga.

He added that the closed-door meeting was held to discuss preparations for the May 31 public rally that Raj Thackeray plans to address. It will be Thackeray’s first public interface after the results of the Lok Sabha elections were announced.

The MNS was thoroughly trounced in all 10 Lok Sabha seats it contested and saw its vote share fall from 4.06 per cent to 1.5 per cent. The strategy to project Raj Thackeray as chief minister candidate aims to bounce back the party to the centre stage of politics in Assembly polls.

The Thackeray clan for long has claimed that it won’t take up executive roles in the state. However, it seems to be bucking the trend in the last few months with even the Shiv Sena planning to project Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister candidate.

“It will be the mother of all rallies. Rajsaheb will lay out his vision for the state in the meeting,” Darekar said.

The entire top leadership barring party president Raj Thackeray and senior MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar were present at the meeting.

The party had earlier this week held deliberations attended by Raj Thackeray in which the performance of the party was evaluated.

“Rajsaheb was not supposed to attend the meeting. Only the general secretaries of the party and other office-bearers met today to ensure that the rally of May 31 is a success,” said MNS MLA Nitin Sardesai.