January 30, 2021 11:17:49 pm
In an attempt to shore up its declining electoral fortunes and occupy the “Hindutva space” left partially vacant after the Shiv Sena joined hands with Congress and NCP, MNS chief Raj Thackeray will be visiting Ayodhya in March.
Thackeray is expected to visit Ayodhya between March 1 and 9, and the visit will be coinciding with the party’s 15th anniversary on March 9.
The decision to visit Ayodhya was made at a meeting of the top brass of the MNS leadership on Friday. Thackeray, who floated the MNS in 2006 after splitting from the Shiv Sena, hit the state’s electoral stage with a bang by winning 13 seats in the 2009 Assembly election. Since then, his party has only spiralled, losing members as well as popularity. In the 2019 Assembly election, it won only a single seat in Kalyan rural, where Pramod Ratan Patil emerged as the winner.
The win, however, remains facile for the MNS that has steadily lost its base in Maharashtra. The Sena’s decision to join hands with Congress and NCP is seen by many MNS leaders as a lifeline through which the party can rebrand itself and occupy the Hindutva space. They believe that hardcore Sena activists, who are troubled with the party’s decision to jump onto the “secular bandwagon” while still keeping their distance from the BJP, may desert the Sena to support the MNS.
As part of its “Hindutva makeover”, the party also changed its flag into all-saffron with the seal of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji embossed in the middle. The flag was earlier saffron, blue and green stripes.
There is also a feeling among MNS leaders that the BJP may also prop the MNS as a counterfoil to the Sena in the upcoming BMC elections. The MNS, in the 2017 BMC polls, won seven seats, a massive dip from the 28 it managed to win in 2012.
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