MNS president Raj Thackeray on Saturday announced he and his party would contest the Assembly elections in Maharashtra due later this year and would be the Chief Minister if his party got the mandate.
So far, nobody in the Thackeray family has ever contested an election or held any government post.
After the drubbing his party received in Lok Sabha elections, Raj went one step further and made it clear that he would become the Chief Minister if his party romps home in the electoral battle.
“People have a lot of love for and expectations from our party. If the mandate is for MNS, I will not hesitate to lead it,” he said.
MNS, which had declared support to Narendra Modi for the prime minister’s post and fielded just nine candidates, mostly against Shiv Sena, in Lok Sabha polls, had suffered a washout. Many of its candidates even lost their deposits.
MNS had earlier announced that Raj Thackeray would be its Chief Ministerial candidate.
Addressing his first rally today after Lok Sabha poll rout, Raj said he would bounce back in coming Assembly elections.
“Political pundits said I am finished….but look at the crowd gathered here….does the rally have a look of a defeated party?” he said.
He said he had seen defeats since a very young age when he was in Shiv Sena. “I have learnt how to learn from defeats and bounce back.”
Referring to the criticism about his party’s performance so far, Raj said “if you have expectations from me, give me time.”
“In Nashik municipal corporation, it was just about two years ago that my party came to power. You don’t question those who are ruling the civic bodies for more than 30 years…how can I fulfill all the promises in two years,” he said.
Raj’s uncle Bal Thackeray founded Shiv Sena in 1960s and led it to power in the state assembly elections in alliance with BJP in 1995 but he himself never contested an election, or took up any post in the government.
Referring to the party’s agitation against toll collection on State roads which was dubbed as a flop-show by many in the media, Raj said “isn’t it enough that due to the agitation, 65 toll booths in the state were shut down?”
Describing the Lok Sabha polls’ outcome as a verdict “only” for Narendra Modi, Raj said he had sensed the mood of the people and knew NDA would cross 300 seats.