The fire-brand politician of Maharashtra, Raj Thackeray, campaigned against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah during Lok Sabha elections. But, even after campaigning against them, BJP-Shiv Sena candidates won in areas where Raj Thackeray held rallies.
While campaigning, Thackeray addressed 10 rallies, including in (former chief minister Ashok Chavan’s) Nanded, (senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde’s) Solapur and (Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora’s) Mumbai South). But, the Congress/NCP candidates lost to the saffron alliance in all but two seats where he campaigned. NCP’s Sunil Tatkare defeated Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete in Raigad while in the Satara seat NCP’s Udayanraje Bhosale won.
On Thursday, Raj Thackeray termed the results as “beyond rationale”. Political analyst Abhay Deshpande told mid-day that Thackeray succeeded in garnering crowd, but failed to understand that they don’t translate to votes so easily. “If there is no MNS candidate in the fray, most of its supporters will endorse another saffron candidate. A saffron voter may, if they have no choice, forfeit their vote, but will never move to the Congress or the NCP,” he added.
MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande told the Indian Express that Congress-NCP failed to capitalise on the MNS factor. “Besides, the alliance could not handle Vikhe-Patil and Mohite-Patil well,” he added.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP wanted to bring in the MNS as a partner, but the Congress would have none of it. The recent arrangement – where Thackeray campaigned in a few select constituencies in Mumbai – was a compromise. Thackeray has his eye on the state elections later this year and more importantly, on the civic elections in the city in 2022. He will need help from the Congress and the NCP then. It could be seat adjustments or something less formal, but unless the bigger parties cooperate, Thackeray and his party stare at a very bleak future.