MNS leaders give Raj Thackeray a mouthful

The meeting, held at his house in Shivaji Park in Dadar, was to discuss the party's performance in the BMC elections.

Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday had to face flak from his own party leaders for not doing the needful to improve his party’s performance in elections. Mr Thackeray was meeting his party colleagues to decide about the strategy to revamp the party ahead of general and assembly elections in 2019.

When a senior leader asked Mr Thackeray to express his opinion on various issues to put forth the party’s position before the public, Mr Thackeray held leaders responsible for not conveying his thoughts to people.

“But we told Raj saheb that mechanism of elections is changed now. People want their leader every day before them. Our party stands on his charisma. But similarly, people want him to listen to what is happening around them frequently. That is not happening,” said another MNS leader.

Thursday’s meeting was confined to the party’s performance in Mumbai in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. A series of similar meetings are scheduled to be held for different municipalities, like Aurangabad, Pune, Nagpur, etc. Meetings will then be held for Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra.

The MNS was meeting for the first time after its debacle in the recent civic bodies elections. The MNS fared poorly in the elections — while it won seven seats each in Mumbai and Nashik, it won two in Pune and one in Ulhasnagar.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Thackeray asked leaders to put across their opinions frankly and discuss everything that is needed to re-energise the party.

Some leaders grabbed this opportunity and put across their opinions on the table. “It is true that there were two factions in meeting. Mr Thackeray was on one side and leaders on the other. This has happened for the first time that leaders stood by their statements and Raj saheb had to listen them,” said a senior MNS leader on condition of anonymity.

A major talking point at the meet was Mr Thackeray’s unavailability in commenting on various issues. MNS leaders asked Mr Thackeray to be more active in public life when there are no elections, to be more visible in public and lead the party on various current issues.

Commenting on the meeting, senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said the party would continue to support the Marathi agenda. “It will remain in the future as well. Rajsaheb has clearly stated that despite any electoral loss, he won’t compromise on this issue,” said Mr Nandgaonkar.

Indications are that MNS will see a big organisational reshuffle when the party concludes its exercise of stock-taking.

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