Mumbai: The NCP is considering taking the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) onboard for the Maharashtra Assembly elections, sources in the Sharad Pawar-led party have said. Assembly polls are due in the state later this year.
The Raj Thackeray-led party was not part of the ‘grand alliance’ stitched by the Congress and NCP with smaller parties for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. The NCP was keen on alliance with the MNS, but the Congress reportedly had reservations, fearing a backlash in the Hindi heartland due to the MNS’ anti-North Indian stand. The MNS is not contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
Thackeray, however, addressed several rallies in the state during the first four phases, attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appealing people not to vote for the BJP. “The Congress was concerned about aligning with the MNS during general elections due to latter’s anti-North Indian posturing. But that should not be a concern in the state polls,” an NCP leader said.
The possibility of the NCP allotting MNS some seats from its quota (as part of alliance with the Congress) could not be ruled out, he said. The MNS, he said, can influence voters in around 30 Assembly segments.”The MNS put up a good show in the 2009 polls. That indicated the strength it had in certain Assembly segments in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik,” the source said.
The MNS won 13 seats in the 2009 Assembly polls and is believed to have eaten into the Shiv Sena and BJP’s vote share, helping the Congress-NCP combine to retain power. The Congress, NCP and MNS secured 21.01 per cent, 16.37 per cent and 5.71 per cent votes, respectively, in 2009. But the Raj Thackeray-led party’s influence had waned when the 2014 Assembly elections came by, and it could win only one seat.