Will Raj Thackeray-led MNS become completely 'Hindutva' driven to stay relevant?

As per the speculations in the political circle, Raj Thackeray-led MNS may also clarify its policies on Hindutva and decide on forming a possible alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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On the occasion of late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on January 23 is likely to launch his son Amit Thackeray into mainstream politics. 

As per the speculations in the political circle, the MNS may also clarify its policies on Hindutva and decide on forming a possible alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

However, no official announcement regarding the same has been made until now.

The MNS has organised 'Maha-Adhiveshan' in Mumbai on the occasion of late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary on January 23. 

As per the media reports, MNS has changed its party flag which has a stamp (Raj Mudra) used during Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s rule and the flag is saffron in colour giving away the Hindutva flavour. 

However, no official announcement regarding the change of the party’s flag has come from MNS’ end. Earlier, as per the media reports, senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had met Raj Thackeray in a hotel in Mumbai. 

After this, the speculations are being generated that Raj Thackeray-led MNS is likely to announce a major shift in their policy. 

Similar to Shiv Sena MLA Aditya Thackeray, Amit Thackeray also accompanies his father Raj Thackeray at almost every party event. However, Amit Thackeray has never formally addressed MNS workers. 

If Amit Thackeray is pushed into mainstream politics, MNS will get a youth leader and a 'fresh' face in the public which can be beneficial for the regional party. 

In 2019 Maharashtra assembly elections, MNS witnessed a huge setback and was completely washed off from the power. Only one MNS candidate, Raju Patil, managed to win from Kalyan assembly constituency. 

Therefore, the change in MNS’ policy on Hindutva and  building a relationship with BJP, especially on the electoral front, seems like a strong possibility. The alliance with BJP on Hindutva issue will only benefit the regional party, electorally.

On the other hand, BJP may try to monopolise on the issue of the " sons of the soil" if it allies with Raj Thackeray-led MNS which can spell trouble for Shiv Sena. Moreover, if MNS turns completely saffron (or towards Hindutva), with BJP's support, it can affect Sena's vote bank in the upcoming civic elections. 

Recently, MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were seen together in a banner put up for the Zila Parishad elections in Palghar, which were held on January 7. 

After the 2019 Maharashtra assembly election results, BJP was left hanging after its35-year-old ally Shiv Sena formed government with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

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