Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday announced that the party will contest the upcoming 2014 Lok Sabha elections and released the first list of candidates. MNS supremo also said that his party will support Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
MNS released the first list consisting seven candidates and the second list is also expected to be announced soon.
This comes after former BJP president Nitin Gadkari met Raj Thackeray and appealed him not to contest the general elections.
After MNS released the list, Gadkari said that the BJP is grateful for what Raj Thackeray said. "We are grateful to Raj Thackeray for what he has said. But in Maharashtra, we already have a strong alliance with the Shiv Sena. I would request Raj Thackeray to consider helping out to some of the NDA candidates as well," he added.
The Shiv Sena, however, said its ties with the NDA won't get affected after Raj Thackeray extended support to Modi. "Our relationship and understanding is with the BJP, our alliance is based on an ideology and such events won't make any difference to our alliance. It was a googly by the MNS to confuse the voters," said Rahul Navrekar, spokesperson of the Shiv Sena.
Raj Thackeray faced criticism too after he said his party will support the Gujarat strongman. Maharashtra, Samajwadi Party chief Abu Asim Azmi said that the MNS is not secular as it is supporting the NDA.
Gadkari had earlier said, "We want to ensure that the Congress-NCP don't benefit from a split in the anti-Congress vote. If the MNS abstains it will help the Shiv Sena candidates. I don't think the Sena is upset."
The 2009 results tweeted by a Narendra Modi supporter showed that the MNS was an X-factor as the party did not won seats but helped the Congress in at least 10 constituencies.
Spread across Mumbai, Bhiwandi, Thane and Pune, the MNS candidates polled close to 1 lakh or more votes that essentially was the difference between victory and a defeat for the Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena-BJP candidates.
A possible rapprochement between estranged cousins Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray, many believed would be a game changer in the 2014 elections. While Raj, Gadkari meeting might have caused some disquiet in the Shiv Sena camp, but any kind of understanding with the MNS will benefit the BJP-Sena alliance.
Here is the list of candidates
Mumbai South: Bala Nandgaonkar
Mumbai South Central : Aditya Shirodkar
Mumbai North West : Mahesh Manjrekar
Kalyan: Raju Patil
Nashik: DR Pradeep Pawar
Pune: Deepak Paigude