The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is making significant strides as it prepares to step into the Lok Sabha election arena, with a keen eye on the Maval and Pune Lok Sabha constituencies within Pune district, according to sources within the party.
Shrirang Barne, the incumbent Member of Parliament from Maval, is affiliated with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction of the Shiv Sena and is expected to seek re-election. However, the landscape is competitive, with the NCP and BJP also expressing interest in this crucial constituency. In the 2019 elections, Ajit Pawar’s son Parth contested for the seat but was unsuccessful, while former BJP MLA Lakshman Jagtap, backed by the MNS at the time, ran in the 2014 election.
In a notable departure from its historical stance, the MNS, which had refrained from contesting this constituency in the past, is now cautiously testing the waters. Recently, during a party meeting convened by leaders Ranjit Shirole and Ameya Khopkar, representatives from all six assembly segments in the Maval Lok Sabha constituency, namely Pimpri, Chinchwad, Mawal, Panvel, Karjat, and Uran, were invited. They were instructed to initiate preparations for the impending election, as disclosed by party insiders.
While victory may be a long shot for the MNS, there is a growing interest in assessing how much of an impact their candidate can make on the prospects of the Maha Yuti candidate, according to party insiders.
The MNS appears to be directing its energies toward Pune district this time around. Party supremo Raj Thackeray has notably increased his visits to Pune, and there are indications that he has entrusted his son, Amit, with the responsibility of devising the party’s election strategy. These developments have fueled speculations that the MNS is taking the upcoming Lok Sabha elections seriously, a departure from its historical stance since its inception nearly 20 years ago, and is actively preparing for its first-ever Member of Parliament.
Previously, former MNS Corporator from Pune, Vasant More, had expressed interest in contesting the Pune Lok Sabha constituency following the demise of BJP’s sitting MP, Girish Bapat. More had appealed to the party leadership for support as a candidate in the by-election, confidently claiming that he could become the first MNS Member of Parliament. However, since the by-election was not officially declared for the constituency, More did not have the opportunity to prove his assertion. While it remains uncertain whether More can rally support from fellow leaders in the city, he may stand as the party’s candidate if Amit Thackeray is given the chance and decides in his favor. Amit is scheduled to visit Pune soon, where he is expected to address a meeting of party office bearers to discuss matters such as party organization, candidate selection, and campaign strategies, according to party sources.