Raj’s attack on BJP will benefit us, says NCP leader

The Asian Age.

Metros, Mumbai

The NCP tried hard to take the MNS into the grand alliance led by the Congress in the state.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray

Mumbai: The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) feels that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s latest attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will eventually benefit the Congress-NCP combine in the Lok Sabha polls, at least in some urban pockets in Maharashtra.

The NCP is confident as Mr Thackeray made an appeal Tuesday saying that the Lok Sabha election was a fight between the PM and the rest of the country. The NCP tried hard to take the MNS into the grand alliance led by the Congress in the state.

But the Congress opposed taking MNS into the alliance as it felt that the MNS would damage the party’s prospects in Mumbai, and the north Indian states in the Lok Sabha elections. The MNS had already announced it would contest the Lok Sabha election. In the 2014 elections, the MNS drew a blank. In the 2014 Assembly elections, the party won only one seat.

Disgruntled BJP MLA from Dhule, Anil Gote, also called on Mr Pawar at his residence on Wednesday. Mr Gote told Mr Pawar that his sole aim was to defeat Union minister and local BJP MP Subhash Bhamre. However, Mr Gote clarified that he had not sought the help of the NCP chief, but had conveyed his position to him.

About Mr Thackeray and Mr Pawar meeting, a NCP leader said, “The MNS enjoys influence in some urban pockets. Though the MNS is formally not a part of the proposed grand alliance, the position Mr Thacke-ray took on Tuesday will eventually benefit us.”

He also said that the proposed grand alliance wo-uld benefit constituencies such as Mumbai north-east, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Nashik and some other pockets in the Konkan belt.

MNS had loyal vote banks in many of these pockets. Addressing MNS workers in Bandra, Mr Thackeray slammed the PM over "rising unemployment" and other issues.

The ruling BJP already claimed that the MNS chief was doing the bidding of "Baramati", a reference to Mr Pawar's pocket borough. Maharashtra will vote in four phases in April.