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Will Raj Thackeray's Marriage Diplomacy Help MNS Tie Poll Knot With Congress?

Sources said that the MNS may seek one Lok Sabha seat from the kitty of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, a Congress ally.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:January 11, 2019, 5:31 PM IST
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Will Raj Thackeray's Marriage Diplomacy Help MNS Tie Poll Knot With Congress?
File photo of MNS chief Raj Thackeray.
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Mumbai: Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is aspiring to fight the Lok Sabha elections, sources told News18, adding that the invitation to Rahul Gandhi for the wedding of Raj Thackeray's son might be an attempt to break ice with the Congress party.

Sources said that the MNS may seek one Lok Sabha seat from the kitty of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, a Congress ally. But the NCP is understood to have denied such a possibility. Congress leaders have also ruled out any such proposal as of now.

“We do want to fight Lok Sabha elections. We will demand four seats, but will be keen on fighting on one seat at least,” an MNS leader told News18 on condition of anonymity.

The leader added that the party will try for seats in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik regions. “But we would want the Mumbai north-east seat. And what is wrong in having an aspiration to fight the Lok Sabha polls?” he asked.

Raj Thackeray did not respond to News18’s queries.

"The Congress and NCP have together decided that we will not share any seats with MNS. MNS will not be a part of the alliance," NCP leader Nawab Malik said. Congress too, has categorically denied any such proposal put forth for discussion.

Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said that no such proposal has come for discussion as of yet. “There is no such proposal. It is difficult for Congress to accept this anyway,” he said as the party is wary of MNS’s anti-north Indian image.

Recently, Raj Thackeray had sent two representatives to invite Rahul Gandhi for his son Amit's wedding on January 27 in Mumbai. Several senior politicians across party lines are expected to attend the wedding. Political circles in Maharashtra are rife with speculations about Raj Thackeray's marriage diplomacy.

Questions are being raised on whether the wedding will be used for breaking ice with the Congress.

Thackeray is keen to revive his political fortunes in the state. Like the 2009 polls when his party had substantially dented the votes of BJP and Shiv Sena, the MNS chief is eying a role in the coming Lok Sabha polls too. Thackeray, a politician and cartoonist like his late uncle Balasaheb Thackeray, counts personalities from the art and business world among his friends apart from politicians.

Maharashtra has a total of 48 Lok Sabha seats, the highest after Uttar Pradesh. While there is no decision yet on the future of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, the Congress and NCP are inching towards a seat-sharing consensus in the state.

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| Edited by: Debdeep Mukherjee
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