Leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have spoken against their chief Raj Thackeray and blamed him for the party's disastrous performance in the recently-concluded civic polls. In a rare show of dissent in a party where Thackeray's word is law, the leaders who met Thackeray to review the party's poor performance said that the cadre felt rudderless and that the party has no specific ideological stand.
Speaking to The Indian Express, one of the MNS leaders said, "There has been discontent among our party workers that the leadership is not accessible and that we do not have a strategy in place for the growth of the party. It was not a confrontation but the leaders today chose to speak their mind before the chief." The leaders told Thackeray that the cadre wanted the MNS to dilute its sons of the soil agenda.
MNS had suffered a crushing defeat in the 2014 Assembly election also, with its tally reduced to just one seat in the Legislative Assembly from the previous 13 MLAs.
Thackeray, however, said that the party will not dissociate itself from the Marathi Manoos. "Doesn’t matter if we don’t get votes, I won’t budge from the Marathi Manoos agenda. Those who don’t agree with me can take a call and leave," Mumbai Mirror quoted him as saying. He was addressing a meeting of the party office-bearers and the leaders to take stock of the MNS' organisational set up and the defeat it suffered in the civic polls, including in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Dismissing charges that he is inaccessible, Thackeray also said that he has always been available to his party workers.
According to the party sources, senior leaders Bala Nandgaonkar, Nitin Sardesai, and Aditya Shirodkar were tasked to prepare a detailed report of the MNS' performance in the BMC polls, where the party's tally came down to seven seats from 28 seats it had won in 2012. MNS was also routed in Nashik civic body, where it was the ruling party.
Sources said the report was submitted to Thackeray on Thursday. The report further said that the MNS workers have expressed that Thackeray did not properly highlight the issues faced by the common people and also failed to take them to their logical end. The meeting also discussed the need to take along all sections of the society living in Mumbai, a party leader said, suggesting the deviation from the party's the sons of the soil agenda.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, more leaders may quit if the party doesn't show any signs of revival. Top MNS leaders such as Pravin Darekar, Ram Kadam, Ramesh Patil and Vasant Gite, all former legislators, have already switched to the BJP. The report further added that the leaders spoke against Thackeray, when the MNS head reprimanded the party leaders for failing to take the party message to the masses. The party leaders also tried to convince Thackeray that the party needed to woo other communities, considering the changing demographics. Thackeray dismissed the suggestion and refused to dilute his Marathi Manoos agenda. "You should have done more hard work," Hindustan Times quoted the leader.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Apr 21, 2017 17:08 PM