Maharashtra politics set for churn? As Shiv Sena mulls walking out of state govt, NCP, MNS grow closer

There may be a fresh twist to the politics of Maharashtra, with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) making fresh overtures towards each other.

As reported by The Times of India on Friday, MNS chief Raj Thackeray will be "interviewing" NCP's Sharad Pawar in Pune on 3 January, and the duo is expected to talk about the politics of the state, caste-based issues, farmer suicides, etc. Given that both Pawar and Thackeray have been critical of the BJP-led state government, they are also expected to launch an offensive against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' administration.

The getting together of Pawar and Thackeray would worry Fadnavis, especially since his ally Shiv Sena is also threatening to walk out of the alliance. The BJP, weakened in the Legislative Assembly without the support of Sena, isn't likely to appreciate any possible mutual admiration between NCP and MNS.

Sharad Pawar and Raj Thackeray

Sharad Pawar and Raj Thackeray

Meanwhile, the MNS cadre too is said to be "baffled" about the new-found affection between Pawar and Thackeray. The Times of India report recalled that Pawar had ticked Thackeray off by publicly stating that "those who rise at noon" can't make good politicians. But the fact that they are willing to share the dais today means a possible political realignment in Maharashtra may be on the cards.

"This (Pawar's criticism of Thackeray) was back in 2006. Eleven years later, Pawar saheb is willing to share space with Raj saheb for a public interview. Surely, Pawar saheb has something up his sleeve," a senior NCP functionary was quoted as saying in the report.

The NCP was in an alliance with the Congress in Maharashtra, which they ruled for three successive terms. Two days ago, the two said their alliance is still strong and they would look forward to contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections together.

"We (Congress and NCP) will fight the 2019 elections as an alliance and will come to power. A change is already happening in Gujarat and will soon spread to the rest of the country," former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.

With the MNS and NCP also sharing warm vibes with each other, a three-party alliance cannot be ruled out in Maharashtra, with Congress, NCP and MNS joining hands to battle the saffron government, which is already heading for a split with Sena planning to walk out.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's son and the party's youth face Aditya Thackeray was quoted by the media as saying earlier this week that it will walk out of the Fadnavis government. "The Sena will quit power in one year and come back to power on its own strength. (Sena president) Uddhav will decide the time when the party will quit power," Aditya said. "Once that is done (the decision on quitting power is taken), all of you have to work together to bring about a change," the Sena scion said.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2017 17:02 PM

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