Raj Thackeray attempts to make Elphinstone stampede his route to relevance
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) that is being pushed into political oblivion in Maharashtra is hoping to revive its fortunes over the tragic Elphinstone stampede. The party has organized a massive rally in Mumbai over rail safety which is being led by MNC chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday. This is the only rally Raj Thackeray is leading in five years.
Despite the Mumbai police refusing permission, the MNS is all set to hold a protest rally. Raj Thackeray will take part in the rally and walk near the Western Railway's headquarters in Churchgate station. The MNS wants to give Mumbaikars the feeling of standing in solidarity with them but the rally is more for its own political relevance in the state.
The MNS does not have a single seat in the 288-seat Maharashtra assembly. The sole MLA from the party- Sharad Sonawane from Junnar constituency in Pune district- resigned from the assembly in February this year citing failure on protecting farmers of his constituency. The party does not have a hold over any civic bodies- the soul of all parties in Maharashtra. The last rally of the MNS led by Raj Thackeray himself was way back in August 2012.
MNS has been on a political downward slide for 11 years now and the party and its chief seem to have realized that the time has come to reverse the trend.
Despite being a partner in the government and head of Bruhanmumbai Municipal corporation, the Shiv Sena criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party over the tragedy. Taking a cue, the MNS to have jumped on the bandwagon of making politics out of a tragedy that killed 23 people. For days, MNS workers have been working overtime to ensure publicity of the rally. The party hopes to see at least 50,000 people gather for the protest at various places in Mumbai.
MNS has been posting banners, posters on social media to create awareness, videos and photos are being used to create a visual impact and coax citizens into taking part in the protest. On Wednesday, MNS workers boarded local trains and distributed pamphlets and asked commuters to join 'the fight for their cause'. The cause, however, is more about MNS' political relevance in the state than anything else.