[Shiv Sena gained by allying with Modi and his BJP. Very soon started the decline of the MNS. Raj Thackeray from being a force to reckon with, became a political non-entity.]
Nashik: On Friday February 17, 2012 Raj Thackeray, fresh from splitting the Shiv Sena and forming his own Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), was a triumphant person and rocking like a star. For, he had given the Shiv Sena not only a tough contest in Mumbai and Thane civic elections but also dislodged his parent party from the Nashik Mahanagar Palika (NMC).
Quite surprisingly for the pollsters, and perhaps for Raj Thackeray himself, the newly formed Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) bagged 40 seats - enough to rule the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) and have its own mayor and standing committee chairman in the 122-member civic body which controls the pilgrim city.
Five years later, however situation seems to be taking an opposite turn. For, not only has the MNS failed to show any unprecedented development work which the Nashikites could see and feel but most of the 40 MNS corporators, who won the 2012 election as MNS candidates, switched to the BJP and other parties before the 2017 elections.
The MNS was therefore totally demoralised when it faced the 2017 elections, polling for which was held amid tight security on Tuesday February 21, 2017, recording a whopping 61.60 per cent voter turnout.
Nashik has a total of 31 wards. While 29 wards are represented by 04 candidates, two wards have 03, taking the total number of corporators in the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) to 122. The current mayor is Ashok Murtadak of the MNS.
While the MNS won 40 seats in the 2012 elections, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won 20 seats, the Congress 15, Shiv Sena 19, Bhartia Janata Party (BJP) 14, Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) 03 and others were 11.
The Shiv Sena ruled Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) consecutivey for two terms. Interestingly in 2012 the MNS had defeated in 2012 Nashik elections, not only the Shiv Sena but also the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the party led by now in jail Chagan Bhujbal, who as Guardian Minister of Nashik had to his credit a number of big and small projects, including the largest flyover and Ozhar Airport, successfully implemented in and around Nashik.
It was the first time when the MNS was elected to power a civic body. People had expectations and were impressed by the promises made by Raj Thackeray who was criss-crossing the entire state with a promise to provide a better alternative and assert his position over Udhav Thackeray, his cousin who was heading the Shiv Sena after the death of Bal Thackeray.
It was the time when Raj Thackeray was a leader taller than Udhav Thackeray. But then came the emergence of Narendra Modi at the centerstage of the national politics and a sudden rise of the BJP. Shiv Sena gained by allying with Modi and his BJP. Very soon started the decline of the MNS. Raj Thackeray from being a force to reckon with, became a political non-entity.
Moreover with unfavourable BJP government in Mumbai and New Delhi, the MNS could not do much. The party could not even use the Maha Kumbh held during its tenure to make the Nashikites realise that the party is different from others. Its result was that by the time of the 2017 civic elections, the party was in a total disarray and could not keep his party corporators to the party fold.
Against this backdrop, the stakes are high for Raj Thackeray and his MNS as Nashik prepares for the counting of votes to elect the new body of the 122-member civic body scheduled for Thursdat February 23, 2017.
All indications are that the MNS will fail to retain its control over the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC). If it happens, it will be a big blow to Raj Thackeray who has in the recent time failed to show any considerable gain in the first and second phase of civic elections held in other parts of Maharashtra including Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.