Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which was a major player in the 2009 state Assembly elections, has failed to keep its existing seats in the latest polls. In fact, the party managed to bag only one seat, Junnar in Pune.
Party leaders blamed the ‘Modi wave’ in the state and said voters had opted for BJP or Shiv Sena candidates, which resulted in MNS’ poor showing.
“People rejected MNS candidates, preferring BJP or Shiv Sena in this election,” said MNS leader Praveen Darekar. “They did not even like party chief Raj Thackeray’s developmental vision of party, ‘the blueprint of Maharashtra’,” he added.
Mr Darekar, who was the candidate from Magathane constituency, was defeated by Shiv Sena candidate Prakash Surve. “People don’t want development, and hence they chose such persons who have a criminal background,” he claimed without naming Mr Surve.
Other prominent MNS leaders also met a similar fate, most of them at the hands of Sena candidates. “When MNS contested the Assembly polls for the first time in 2009, the party was new and people had faith in Mr Thackeray. Hence, 13 legislators won,” said Mr Darekar.
Out of the 13, Ramesh Wanjale from Khadakwasla constituency expired, Harshvardhan Jadhav from Kannad (Aurangabad) quit MNS and joined Shiv Sena, Ramesh Dhongade replaced Uttamrao Dhikale in Nasik East constituency while Ram Kadam from Ghatkopar East quit MNS and joined BJP at the last moment.
Interestingly, former MNS man Ram Kadam won the election as BJP candidate while Harshvardhan Jadhav won as a Sena candidate. “All outgoing legislators lost the election because of money power,” claimed Mr Darekar. He said that Marathi voters chose Shiv Sena while BJP candidates bagged Gujarati voters.
Accepting defeat, MNS general secretary Nitin Sardesai admitted that the Modi wave was still in existence. A glance at the results so far shows that six of MNS MLAs lost to Sena candidates and all were big names in the seven-year-old party. For instance, Sewri MLA Bala Nandgaonkar lost to Shiv Sena’s Ajay Chaudhari by a staggering 41,000 votes. He was said to be second-in-command after Mr Thackeray. Likewise, another senior MNS leader Shishir Shinde lost to Sena’s Ashok Patil in the Bhandup (west) constituency.
Mr Sardesai lost to Shiv Sena’s Sada Sarvankar by 5,941 votes in Mahim constituency. Mangesh Sangle another MNS MLA, was defeated by Sena’s Sunil Raut in the Vikroli Assembly seat. BJP’s Devyani Farande defeated MNS’ Nashik Central MLA Vasant Geete by a huge margin of 28,272 votes....