Raj Thackeray, the chief of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena(MNS) which has zero seats in the state Vidhan Sabha has threatened to boycott the upcoming state assembly elections in opposition to the EVMs being used to determine the poll result. Raj had similarly refrained from fielding MNS candidates in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections in protest against the use of EVMs in the elections.
In a recently held meeting amongst the MNS functionaries, it was decided that MNS will not participate in the forthcoming state elections. Instead, Raj Thackeray has proposed to launch a mass movement opposing the usage of EVMs in the elections. Raj had held similar views in the General elections 2019 as well. He reiterated the same idea in the recently held MNS meeting.
Soon after establishing the party in 2006, Raj Thackeray’s MNS made rapid inroads in the state assembly by sending 13 legislators to the assembly in the 2009 Vidhan Sabha elections. However, in 2014, as the country was gripped in Modi wave and with MNS offering no credible poll commitments, the party was reduced to just one Vidhan Sabha seat.
In 2014 Maharashtra state assembly elections, MNS had managed to win 1 seat from the Junnar constituency. It fought on 218 Vidhan Sabha seats out of total 288 seats in Maharashtra and lost deposits on 203 of the seats. Sharad Sonawane fought and won the elections on an MNS ticket from the Junnar constituency. But soon after the elections got over, Sonawane was disillusioned by his party and started distancing itself from the MNS. In March 2019, he abandoned MNS to join the Shiv Sena.
On the other hand, Nationalist Congress Party senior leaders have requested Raj Thackeray to reconsider his decision of boycotting the elections. Some MNS leaders are also dismayed by Raj Thackeray’s decision of not participating in the polls. According to reports, many senior MNS leaders, too, have asked Raj to once again think about the decision of avoiding the elections. Raj’s trusted aide, Bala Nandgaonkar has issued a clarification that the discussions regarding boycotting the elections are still underway. However, some reports suggest that many senior leaders might leave the party if MNS decides against contesting the elections.