The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)’s lone MLA Sharad Bhimaji Sonawane has decided to stay with the party. Sonawane had a meeting with MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday in Mumbai. This meeting was a matter of attention in political circles as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders had contacted Sonawane seeking his support in formation of the government.
Accordingly, Sonawane on Tuesday spoke to Raj Thackeray and also held discussions with other MNS leaders including former MLA Bala Nandgaokar in Mumbai.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Sonawane said, “I had a meeting with Raj Saheb today. BJP has not contacted him on this issue. I had already told the BJP persons that final decision on supporting them or not will be taken by my party supremo Raj Thackeray. Let BJP talk to him. I will follow his instructions, whatever it may be.”
Sonawane further said, “I will not quit MNS. I will continue to work hard for the party. Being the only MLA of MNS, I will raise the voice of my party strongly in the state assembly.” Sonawane won from the Junnar constituency in Pune by defeating his long time rival Ashatai Buchke of the Shiv Sena by a considerable margin. However, Sonawane was not in the MNS since its formation. He was with the Shiv Sena for a long time. He was the district vice-president of Shiv Sena and sought a ticket for Assembly elections in 2009. But the Sena denied him a ticket and fielded Asha Buchke instead.
Sources from political parties said Sonawane also had differences with Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil. Apparently, he lost interest in Shiv Sena and joined MNS ahead of the Lok Sabha polls this year.
For the Assembly polls he contested on the MNS ticket and emerged as the only party candidate who managed to win. Sonawane will apparently be the party leader of MNS in the House. Sonawane got 60,305 votes, while Buchke managed only 43382. After winning, Sonawane had said he dedicated his victory to Raj Thackeray and people of Junnar. Local residents from Junnar say that Sonawane gained support because of his organising skills and social work in the region.