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To fill the void left by newly ‘secular’ Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray’s MNS goes saffron on Balasaheb’s birth anniversary

The saffron flag was not the only change in the MNS event. A photograph of Veer Savarkar was placed on the stage along with Babasaheb Ambedkar, Sabitribai Phule, and Prabodhankar Thackeray.

Today on the birth anniversary of Balasaheb Thackeray, founder of the Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray’s uncle, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray unveiled his party’s all-saffron new flag with Shivaji Maharaj’s Raj Mudra at the party’s first Maha Adhiveshan at Nesco Centre in Goregaon.

The old one had blue, green and saffron bands and the image of a train engine.

MNS old flag (left) and the all-new saffron flag (right)

Raj Thackeray probably hopes to occupy the space left partially vacant after the Shiv Sena ditched its ideologies to adapt it’s new ‘secular’ makeover after joining hands with the Congress-NCP.

Notably, while stitching up an alliance with Congress and NCP in Maharashtra, the erstwhile Hindutva Party Shiv Sena had come out hailing the tenets of ‘secularism’. In fact, the preamble of the Common Minimum Program (CMP) signed between the three allies had asserted that the alliance between Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP will uphold “secular” values of the constitution.

Meanwhile, MNS has not only changed the colour and design of its flag but in an attempt to change its course leaning more towards Hindutva ideology, for the first time ever, displayed Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s picture on the dais next to that of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the MNS state executive meeting.

Thackeray began the party seminar, which will be held in three sessions, by paying tribute to late Balasaheb Thackeray and garlanding a picture of Veer Savarkar along with B R Ambedkar, Sabitribai Phule, and Probodhankar Thackeray kept beside a bust of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Raj Thackeray’s son Amit Thackeray was inducted into the MNS at this meeting.

Senior MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande who felt that nobody has copyright over the saffron and that whole Maharashtra is saffron said that the new changes “will bring new energy” to Maharashtra, and a “new twist” in Maharashtra politics.

Read: Shiv Sena agrees to uphold ‘secular values’, work for ‘minorities’ in Maharashtra: Read details of Common Minimum Program

MNS was founded in 2006 after Raj Thackeray split from Shiv Sena. Lately, the party was not performing well enough in elections. Now, with Shiv Sena holding the secular flag, MNS probably thought it to be the right time to hold a saffron flag.

There have also been speculations of an alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the MNS following Thackeray’s meeting with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis earlier this month though the BJP leader said there was “no scope” for a tie-up.

“There is a difference in the ideologies of the MNS and BJP. There is no scope for an alliance. It is not possible until our ideologies are different. We can consider it in the future if the MNS changes its ideology,” Fadnavis had said after the meeting.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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