Stung by six Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporators in Mumbai jumping ship to join the Shiv Sena, MNS chief Raj Thackeray is now firefighting to ensure that the 37 remaining corporators from his party spread across Maharashtra stay in the partyfold. In order to ensure that they stick to the party, Thackeray will meet them individually to address any concerns they may have about the party.
Thackeray’s MNS, when it first appeared on the state’s political scene a decade back, had raised expectations as an alternative to established parties, but has since witnessed a steep decline.
Over the past two elections held to Maharashtra’s 27 municipal corporations, the MNS tally of corporators has gone down from 148 to 43. These 43 include the six Mumbai corporators who left the party last week. The only city where the MNS is in a politically strong position is Jalgaon, where it has 12 corporators and holds the post of mayor. The other corporations where it has substantial clout include Kalyan Dombivali where it has 10 corporators and Nashik, where it has five.
Many corporators including those in Nashik, where the MNS had around 40 corporators after the previous election, had complained that the party was being run by a coterie of Raj’s closest associates. Subsequently, the party performed miserably in Nashik, its tally going down from 40 to 5 corporators.
MNS leaders said that Thackeray will speak to all corporators and district-level leaders to ensure that the flock stays together. The protests against hawkers by Thackeray following the stampede at Elphinstone station had created a glimmer of hope for the possible rejuvenation of the party. The defection of the six corporators, however, has pushed the party once again on the backfoot.
Meanwhile, MNS leaders Sandeep Deshpande and Avinash Abhyankar submitted an application at the Konkan Divisional Commissioner’s office on Monday asking the commissioner not to register the six MNS corporators as a separate unit.