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Raj Thackeray keeps everyone guessing over MNS-BJP alliance ahead of crucial civic polls in Maharashtra

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Mumbai: Continuing to sending mixed signals over a possible alliance between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Monday further compounded the matters by remarking that reports of the two parties formally coming together were only emanating from the press and nowhere else.

The MNS president remarked, “I have been hearing reports about the BJP and MNS coming together only from the media.” Raj Thackeray is currently on a five-day tour of the Vidarbha region to rebuild his party’s near defunct organization there.

Raj Thackeray while holding a meeting of his office bearers a day before, had told his partymen that if anyone who wanted to become big in a particular region had to fight with ‘established parties’ there. The BJP is the dominant party in Nagpur while both the saffron party as well as the opposition Congress have strongholds in the Vidarbha region, where the MNS virtually lacks any presence.

Considering his current affinity with the BJP and its top leaders, Raj Thackeray’s intent on contesting against “established parties” poses a question mark on whether the MNS chief will go it alone in the upcoming civic polls or tacitly ally with the saffron party.

Clarifying over the remarks he made to his partymen during the closed-door meeting on Sunday, Raj Thackeray while speaking to reporters said, “Earlier, the Congress was the established party in Vidarbha. Then, the BJP fought them to become the dominant party. So, if they (BJP) are the established party in Vidarbha today, then one will have to fight against them to carve out a toehold.”

Despite this, the MNS chief in the morning met with state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule and is said to have conferred with the latter for nearly half-an-hour. The MNS chief had met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday and had lauded his work. When questioned about his bonhomie with BJP leaders, Raj Thackeray explained it away by arguing that politics was different from personal relations.

Meanwhile, the MNS chief criticized the sudden twists and turns in Maharashtra’s politics, hitting out at both the BJP and the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress.

While taking jibes at Devendra Fadnavis’ early morning oath-taking ceremony with NCP’s Ajit Pawar in 2019, he reserved his harshest censure for his estranged cousin – Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

Stating that there was no power sharing formula between the Sena and the BJP as has been claimed by Uddhav Thackeray, Raj Thackeray said that the former ought to have raised objections on this count before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the election campaign of the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly poll itself.

The MNS chief remarked, “Why didn’t you (Uddhav Thackeray) question PM Modi and Amit Shah when they had been clearly saying that Devendra Fadnavis would be the next CM of Maharashtra. Later, after the election (2019 Assembly polls), you suddenly form an alliance with the NCP and Congress and insult the people’s mandate.”

Questioning why the Vedanta-Foxconn deal had moved out of Maharashtra, the MNS president demanded that a full probe into the affair must be initiated by the current government.

“It appears that Maharashtra is not paying attention to the industries sector. I think we have become complacent given that investment naturally had been flowing into the State for so long… It is important to know where we slipped (alluding to the Vedanta-Foxconn issue),” he said.

In a bid to overhaul the party organization, Raj Thackeray dissolved all top MNS posts in Nagpur while stating that a new working committee would be constituted soon in which youngsters would be given a chance.

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