Mumbai: BJP Faces Backlash Over Alliance With Raj Thackeray's MNS From North Indian Party Cadres

Mumbai: BJP Faces Backlash Over Alliance With Raj Thackeray's MNS From North Indian Party Cadres

This is because Thackeray had in the past taken a strong anti-north Indian stance and his workers had even beaten up several candidates from Uttar Pradesh and other states.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 08:42 PM IST
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MNS Chief Raj Thackeray | File Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party's decision to include Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the Maha Yuti in Maharashtra has not gone well with north Indian cadres of the party in Mumbai.

Reasons for the dissatisfaction

This is because Thackeray had in the past taken a strong anti-north Indian stance and his workers had even beaten up several candidates from Uttar Pradesh and other states who had come to Mumbai to take part in a railway exam. Several of these youths were badly beaten up at Kalyan and other stations. Migrant labourers from Bihar working in Nashik were beaten up so badly by MNS activists that they were forced to return home.

They were not spared even when they were waiting at Nashik railway station to board trains headed for Bihar. In Pune too several Bihar labourers were targeted.  

Raj did not spare even Amitabh Bachhan whom he accused of loving Uttar Pradesh more. This provoked a sharp reaction from Jaya Bachhan who challenged Raj to donate land in Mumbai so that she could start a school for local students. Big B's bungalow in Juhu was also stoned. Ex-M.P. Sanjay Nirupam's residence too was targeted.

Raj's ridicule over 'chhat puja'

Biharis spread out all over the country were deeply hurt when Raj ridiculed the 'chhat puja' which is sacred to them. North Indian hawkers doing business in Dadar and other areas were also asked by MNS workers to move out. These violent activities provoked reactions in Uttar Pradesh where certain leaders declared that they will not allow Raj to enter their state. 

Given this background, BJP cadres from UP and other north Indian states are vehemently opposed to any alliance with the MNS. "Raj will not be an asset to our party. In fact, he will prove to be a big liability. North Indian voters may move away from us in protest," a senior BJP told the FPJ on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

The city BJP has a sizable presence among north Indian voters spread over Goregaon, Kandivali, Borivali, Dahisar and other areas. Many BJP activists wonder how the MNS will be able to help their party. Even though Raj's meetings draw good response, he has not been able to convert this support into votes all these years.

Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena

After he quit the Shiv Sena, there was a general expectation that being more aggressive than his cousin Uddhav, Raj would emerge as the true political successor of Bal Thackeray. But, that has not happened. In fact, Uddhav through deft moves even became the chief minister leaving Raj way behind. The BJP in Mumbai is headed by a Maharashtrian, Ashish Shelar, MLA from Bandra.

But at the organisational level, north Indians are active in large numbers in almost all constituencies. It is learnt that a message has been conveyed to the Union home minister and no. 2 in the BJP Amit Shah  not to have anything to do with Raj. However, the latter's thinking is that Raj will be able to swing Marathi votes in several constituencies in favour of the BJP.  In the past, Raj has been extremely critical of PM Narendra Modi. In fact, he even went to the extent of alleging the the Pulawama terror attack was stage managed. 

Meanwhile, the stalemate in seat-sharing talks among Maja Yuti partners apparently is because some big ticket leaders from the Shiv Sena (UBT) are likely to join the BJP or the Shiv Sena led by CM Eknath Shinde. The BJP, which split the Shiv Sena, apparently feels that Uddhav Thackeray has not been sufficiently weakened politically. The BJP has sent feelers to certain core leaders of the Shiv Sena (UBT) and is awaiting their response.

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