The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)’s leadership has questioned the party president, Raj Thackeray, over the way the party is being handled. This is rare in the MNS, where Thackeray’s word is law, and comes in the backdrop of the party’s abject performance in the recently-held municipal elections.
Senior leaders, who met Thackeray on Thursday, said that the cadres felt rudderless and there was a feeling that the party had no specific ideological stand on issues affecting Maharashtra’s politics. “There has been discontent among our party workers that the leadership is not accessible and that we do not have a strategy in place for the growth of the party,’’ said one of the MNS leaders who met Thackeray. “It was not a confrontation but the leaders today chose to speak their mind before the chief.’’
Thackeray reportedly acknowledged problems that the party faces but castigated the leaders for their inability to effectively communicate their stand. The leaders are said to have discussed ways of reaching out to the non-Marathi population and whether the party should dilute its strident sons-of -the-soil stand. Thackeray reportedly shot down the proposal and said that his core support base was Marathi and it did not make political sense to change course.
“It was an honest discussion on the way forward. We all spoke our minds. As the head of the party, he has a right to question how people are functioning. Certain measures on strengthening the party were discussed during the meeting,” said MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar, who met Thackeray along with leaders like Nitin Sardesai and Avinash Abhyankar.
Thackeray will soon visit various regions in the state to shore up support for the party, which managed to win just 13 seats in 10 municipal corporations. In 2012, the party had managed to get 112 corporators elected. The party had 13 MLAs in 2009 and presently has none. The lone lawmaker elected on MNS symbol quit the party in February.
The MNS managed just 7.8 per cent vote share in the municipal polls. Even new entrants like All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen got double the number of seats than MNS, which has been hit by dissent and defections.