MUMBAI, 2 June-2014, TNN: A day after MNS president and warring cousin Raj Thackeray announced his decision to contest state assembly polls and offered himself as his party’s chief ministerial candidate, the Shiv Sena on Sunday declared that party chief Uddhav Thackeray will be its CM nominee.
“Uddhavji will be the CM,” Sanjay Raut, Sena MP, told reporters here. But he didn’t specify whether Uddhav like his cousin will contest the assembly election.
Raut only said that it would be decided by the party president at an “appropriate time”. “We are in no hurry to prove our credentials,” he said, in a jibe at the MNS chief.
In the recently held Lok Sabha polls, the BJP-led saffron combine swept the state winning 42 of the 48 seats. While the BJP won 23 seats, Sena got 18 and one seat was won by Swabhiman Paksha. Raj had put up 10 candidates and all of them lost their deposits.
Later in the evening, Uddhav celebrated the party’s victory at a function here without mentioning PM Narendra Modi even once in his 12-minute speech. He attributed the party’s victory to the late Balasaheb Thackeray and said it was made possible by countless Shiv Sainiks and Yuva Sena activists.
The Sena move to declare Uddhav as the CM nominee will make matters difficult for the saffron alliance in the run up to the assembly election as the BJP is eyeing the Maharashtra chief minister’s post, say observers.
State BJP sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed Rajiv Pratap Rudy to ensure that the party gets maximum number of assembly seats in Maharashtra, so that it can claim the chief ministership after the October election.
Rudy, the BJP’s all-India general secretary, monitors the party’s organizational affairs in the state.
The state BJP’s dilemma is that it is unable to agree on a chief minister candidate, said a party functionary. There is a general view in the party that Gopinath Munde will lead the saffron campaign in Maharashtra. However, a section has set its heart on state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis as CM. But, Fadnavis is in no mood to pick up the gauntlet, sources said.
On Saturday, Raj’s ‘Mee CM’ announcement had sent Maharashtra politicians into a tizzy. On Sunday, deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the party should pick up its CM nominee at the earliest. “Ajit Pawarsaheb wants the speculation in the NCP on the succession issue to be ended as early as possible,” said a key party functionary. A section in the NCP is keen on projecting Supriya Sule as the party’s chief ministerial candidate, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, NCP MP Supriya Sule, congratulated Raj on the micro-blogging site for taking the plunge. Home minister R R Patil too greeted the MNS chief. While extending wishes to Raj, Fadnavis, in the same breath, reminded the MNS chief that people of Maharashtra were eager to vote for the Sena-BJP combine in the assembly poll.