MNS sees victory in defeat, eyes assembly

May 17th, 2009 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj Thackeray Mumbai, May 17 (IANS) Some may be calling it a spoilsport, but the controversial Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray is rejoicing despite its defeat in the Lok Sabha polls and is now eyeing the assembly polls later this year.
The less than three years old MNS contested 12 seats in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, and managed to put up a good performance.

It is also being blamed for adversely affecting the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) score in at least three constituencies, including two in Mumbai - thus tasting success in failure.

“Our performance is more or less on expected lines and as per internal assessment before and after polls. It is evident that MNS has arrived with a bang on the state political scene,” said a pleased MNS vice-president Vageesh Saraswat.

Apart from the six seats in Mumbai, the MNS had put up candidates in Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Thane (all in Thane district), the tourism centre of Aurangabad and the pilgrimage town of Nashik.

“Our candidates lost in the No.2 position in Mumbai South, Mumbai North-East and Nashik. In all other constituencies, they stood at No.3 with narrow gaps,” Saraswat told IANS.

In Mumbai South, in some rounds, MNS candidate Bala Nandgaonkar had given anxious moments to sitting Congress MP Milind Deora Saturday by leading for some time, but later the latter managed to bag the seat.

The MNS contestant was ahead of Shiv Sena’s five-time MP Mohan Rawale, who lost in the third position, said Saraswat.

Of the 12 Lok Sabha seats which add up to 72 assembly segments, the MNS candidates secured hefty leads in nearly 20 segments over their nearest saffron rivals, setting off alarm bells for the state assembly elections which are due in five months.

Citing the example of its candidate Shilpa Sarpotdar (Mumbai North-Central), Saraswat said she secured around 160,000 votes, the lowest among the MNS dozen.

“But for a political greenhorn, belonging to a much-maligned party with only one star campaigner (Raj Thackeray) and limited resources at her disposal, we consider it as a spectacular performance,” he explained.

All the other MNS candidates have secured around 200,000 votes, give or take a few thousand.

Not surprisingly, the state BJP-Shiv Sena screamed at the MNS from the rooftops, blaming it for its debacle in the city and other areas.

Sena executive president Udhav Thackeray tried to be diplomatic; initially he said MNS had no impact on the saffron combine performance, but later modified it to “limited impact in some areas”.

“The (MNS) trailer has been a superhit. Now we have already started preparations for assembly elections. We are planning to put up candidates in all the 288 constituencies in the state, either independently or with some allies. Presently, we are being sought after by many parties,” Saraswat claimed but declined to name the prospective suitors.

Elaborating, Saraswat said the MNS may not be in a position to form the next government, “but nobody will be in a position to form the government without the MNS”.

The MNS will continue its pro-sons of the soil policies which seem to have clicked with the masses this time. However, he said now the MNS will take care to ensure that its intentions are not deliberately ‘misinterpreted’ or painted as anti-national as was attempted in the past.

The MNS was in the news last year for attacking north Indian in Maharashtra.

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