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Raj Thackeray to contest Maharashtra assembly elections

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-05-2014 Makarand Gadgil

Mumbai: Departing from Thackeray family’s tradition of not contesting elections and holding public office, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray announced his intention to contest state assembly elections and lead his party’s government if he receives mandate of the people.

Assembly elections in Maharashtra are scheduled in October-November this year.

Addressing a rally in Mumbai on Saturday, Thackeray said: “I called you today to tell you that I will be contesting assembly elections and will be party’s chief ministerial candidate.” Thackeray’s announcement is seen as an attempt to boost the sagging morale of the MNS workers after the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Thackerays have not contested elections thus far. Family patriarch and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray never stood for public office in his life and called himself the remote control of Shiv Sena’s government which governed Maharashtra between 1995 and 1999. Even the Thackeray cousins—Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and MNS’s Raj Thackeray—have not contested elections so far.

In recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, MNS contested on 10 seats from the state and all 10 seats its candidate lost deposit and did not crossed one lakh votes figure. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, out of 12 seats contested by the party, its candidates crossed the six-figure mark in nine seats and caused defeat of the BJP-Shiv Sena candidates.

Commenting upon Shiv Sena’s success in recently concluded Lok Sabha elections where the party got 18 seats, Raj Thackeray said: “The candidates of BJP and its alliance partner won only because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and nothing else. Even my friends from BJP admit in private that they had not anticipate such a huge victory.”

Admitting it was a mistake to contest Lok Sabha elections, he said: “There was such a strong wave in favour of Modi; I heard instances of people asking polling staff, ‘I want to vote for Modi, which button should I press?’ but in order to maintain party’s existence I had to contest the elections.”

Apart from the strong wave, luck also played major part in Modi’s victory. He couldn’t have asked for more as he got opponent like Rahul Gandhi, Thackeray observed.

Asking the party cadre to not get demoralized by the recent defeat, Raj Thackeray reminded them that BJP, which has got 282 seats in 2014 had just won two seats in 1984. Even Indira Gandhi was once defeated in elections, he added.

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