The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena may support the Sena in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the larger interest of the “Marathi manoos”. Senior party leader Bala Nandgaonkar has hinted. “The final decision on whether we should support the Sena for the sake of Marathi pride rests with our president Raj Thackeray. However, one thing that I can say is Raj Thackeray’s decision will be in favour of the welfare of the Marathi manoos,” Nadgaonkar said on Monday.
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The MNS has seven corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, down from 28 in 2012. With both the BJP and Shiv Sena facing off given their failure to reach the mark of 114 which will help the respective parties have their own mayor, tacit as well as explicit support of other parties will be important.
The MNS had, just before the elections, when the Sena had called off its alliance with the BJP submitted a proposal that the two Sena units should join hands. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had however at that time struck down the offer believing that the move was an attempt by the MNS to ride piggyback on the Shiv Sena to expand its own network.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray during his campaign chose to largely target the BJP and his common refrain was about how the party was trying to scuttle prospects of local Marathi residents.
Nandgaonkar said that he hoped the verdict this time had helped the Shiv Sena to understand what the MNS had been telling the party. “Better late then never but the Sena seems to have understood what the MNS had been trying to convey for so long,” he said.
The MNS, meanwhile, may extract its pound of flesh before it backs the Sena —a move which is likely to raise the party’s profile in the eyes of the Marathi speaking residents of the city.
“In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. It is important to be flexible in politics and also understand when you need to be flexible. Whether we should be flexible with the Sena that decision rests with Raj Thackeray,” Nandgaonkar said.
He also said that the MNS should not be taken for granted. “It is not that the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of the Marathi manoos rests with us alone. We were accused of having split Marathi votes, however, now who is dividing locals. I hope they open their eyes now,” Nandgaonkar said in an apparent swipe at the Shiv Sena.