Raj turns 50, can he res­ur­rect MNS?

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTMETRO - Naresh Ka­math

MUM­BAI:AS Ma­ha­rash­tra Navnir­man Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thack­eray turns 50 to­day, the next year -- 2019, which will wit­ness both the Lok Sabha and assem­bly elec­tions, will prove cru­cial to both him as well as the fu­ture of his party.

The moot ques­tion is whether Raj will be able to res­ur­rect his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer as well as re­vive his party, which is now re­duced to a mi­nor force and whose work­ers re­main de­mor­alised. The 2014 Lok Sabha and assem­bly along with the 2017 civic polls proved to be a mas­sive downslide for the MNS. In the back­drop of the dis­con­tent among the cit­i­zens over the ex­or­bi­tant in­crease in petrol prices, MNS work­ers on the oc­ca­sion of Raj’s birth­day gave ‘dis­count’ on petrol in the range of ₹4-₹9 in 36 con­stituen­cies across the city. This ‘dis­count’ for twowheel­ers re­sulted in a mas­sive rush at these petrol pumps. The MNS bore the dif­fer­ence in cost.

How­ever, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts doubt that re­viv­ing the MNS will be easy for its chief. “He was not able to build a strong or­gan­i­sa­tional net­work un­like his men­tor and un­cle Bal Thack­eray (founder of Shiv Sena). Ev­ery­thing in the MNS re­volves around Raj and he has not been able to cre­ate a sec­ond line of lead­er­ship,”said­po­lit­i­cal­com­men­ta­tor Prakash Bal.

In re­cent months, Raj has once again be­come ac­tive and has be­come a bit­ter critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and es­pe­cially of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. He is also now tour­ing Ma­ha­rash­tra in phases.

“In the cur­rent sce­nario, all po­lit­i­cal par­ties have failed the peo­ple and the MNS re­mains a very at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tive for them,” said MNS leader Shalini Thack­eray.

ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HT

Well­wish­ers of MNS chief Raj Thack­eray greet him at his res­i­dence on Thursday.

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