Claiming that the strong showing by his three-year-old party in the Assembly polls showed that the Marathi cause was for real,Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray said on Thursday that his MLAs would control the government in the legislature while he would continue to take to the streets for the sons-of-the-soil.
Thackeray was speaking hours after his party won 13 seats and made a strong debut in the Assembly,surpassing even its own internal estimates that gave the party around eight seats of the 143 it contested. Eleven of those 13 victories came from the Mumbai,Kalyan and Nashik regions,industrial belts with high migrant population and where the MNSs identity politics have found strong favour with local Marathi youth. The party won one seat each in Pune and Aurangabad.
Thackeray said the people had reposed faith in him for taking up the Marathi cause and his MLAs would live up to it in the Assembly. The Opposition failed for the last 10 years in the Assembly to play their role effectively. Now my 13 MLAs will show how the government has to be controlled by the Opposition in our own style. The results show that the Marathi cause is for real and there is support for us for taking up the issue, he said. My MLAs will raise these issues in the Assembly and I will be there on the streets.
Asked about the personal campaign the Sena and the BJP ran against him,accusing him of covertly supporting the ruling Congress and NCP,Thackeray said it was time the Sena introspected as voters had shown who they favoured more. The good showing by the MNS would ensure it is recognised by the Election Commission as a regional party and also allotted the railway engine as its permanent symbol,MNS leaders said.
The MNS victories once again came as a surprise in many constituencies and upset popular predictions that had favoured strong Sena or BJP candidates. For instance,MNS general secretary Nitin Sardesai was the dark horse in the prestigious Mahim seat in Mumbai city where Marathi TV star Aadesh Bandekar was pitted against Sena-rebel Sada Sarvankar who joined the Congress after being denied the ticket. But Sardesai polled 48,734 votes and cruised to victory. Social worker and activist Ram Kadam trounced late BJP leader Pramod Mahajans daughter Poonam with a margin of 26,000 votes in Ghatkopar (West),a seat considered a BJP bastion.
Former Sena MLA and MNS leader,Bala Nandgaonkar,defeated Sena MLA Dagdu Sakpal from Sewri. Marathi people have united for the cause of Marathi and have shown that they trust Raj to raise the voice for them. They have also shown that Raj is the true heir of Bal Thackeray and will take the cause forward, said Nandgaonkar,the only MNS winner who has been an MLA before.
Explaining the partys victory in three of the four seats in Nashik,MNS district head Atul Chandak said,Eight years ago,when Nashik civic elections were held,Raj had promised he would change the citys face if given the power. Since then,Nashik has remained our domain. Raj personally visits Nashik every two weeks to ensure promises are being kept and that is appreciated by the people here.