Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.

A new political formation may be in the offing in Maharashtra if recent overtures by the MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) to the BJP are anything to go by. While BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis has for the record ruled out an alliance for now on grounds of ideological differences, it is not inconceivable that Raj Thackeray’s MNS may make some ideological adjustments to become more acceptable to the BJP. Raj Thackeray had gone hammer and tongs at the BJP, castigating Prime Minister Modi and party president Amit Shah during the election campaign for the Lok Sabha a few months ago but with Shiv Sena having set a precedent in embracing the Congress and the NCP despite earlier serious differences with those parties, another marriage of convenience cannot be ruled out. When Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray had spurned nephew Raj and opted to pass the mantle over to his son Uddhav, Raj had felt estranged, but time is a great healer. Today, finding his party marginalised while Uddhav enjoys power as chief minister, Raj is re-assessing his priorities and his ideology.

The recent setback to the BJP in the zilla parishad and panchayat polls in Maharashtra would predictably goad the BJP to think whether it should embrace Raj and build him up as a counterpoise to Uddhav by rallying all those who were opposed to Shiv Sena’s tie-up with the Congress and NCP. Having won just one seat in the Assembly the MNS is truly down and out and needs BJP as a prop to bounce back into political relevance. With Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary later this month, the MNS reckons that it would be a good time to re-dedicate himself to the Shiv Sena founder and re-orient its strategy. The ball in indeed in the BJP court.

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