Raj Thackeray not to contest Maha polls: Is this a face-saving exercise

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MNS chief Raj Thackeray
The Thackeray vs Thackeray face-off will be missing in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has announced that he will not contest in the ensuing polls.

Clarifying his stand, Raj said that he does not want to limit himself to one constituency. "The entire State of Maharashtra is my constituency and I do not want to limit myself to just one constituency," said Raj.

According to media reports, he said, "Nobody in my family ever contested an election. After some introspection I realized that contesting elections was not my cup of tea."

The MNS chief, who quit Shiv Sena in 2005 was the first amongst the Thackeray family to decide to fight an election. Shiv Sena patriarch late Balasaheb Thackeray never contested any election, nor his son and party president Uddhav has ever desired to do so.

Raj's U-turn

The climbdown comes nearly two months after Raj had declared that he would contest the polls to boost the morale of his partymen. Soon after the poor performance of the MNS in recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Raj had announced that he and his party would contest the Assembly elections in Maharashtra. But, now he has made a U-turn citing family's history of not fighting any elections.

Has Raj conceded defeat?

As compared to Raj's MNS, Shiv Sena seems to be in stronger position ahead of the Assembly polls. Sena which is an ally of BJP and important constituent of Mahayuti will surely derive out benefits from its alliance. The party is even more stronger following its spectacular show in recently concluded Lok Sabha polls and is confident of sweeping Assembly election in Maharashtra too. The alliance got 2.50 crore votes in Maharashtra, which was close of 52 per cent.

People are not happy with MNS and its working style.

On the other hand, MNS contested eight LS seats. But most of party candidates lost their security deposit as they failed to secure even 10% votes.

Raj's defeat will be end of his political career

Some media reports said that Raj was keen to contest from Dadar-Matunga and Nasik constituencies, but the ground report was not in his favour. Reports said that people are not happy with the party and its working style. If Raj suffers defeat in State polls, it will be the end of his political career.

Though, MNS may not have emerged as winner in polls, but it surely acted as game spoiler for BJP-Sena alliance in 2009 State polls.

In 2009 assembly elections, the BJP and the Shiv Sena together got 89 seats, leading to a comfortable victory for the Congress party-led alliance, thanks to MNS which acted as spoiler in elections. Seeing the past record, MNS has a pivotal role and can't be ignored in the upcoming Assembly polls.

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