Raj Thackeray-led MNS has come into limelight since its aggressive stand against Pakistani artists working in Bollywood. The party is thus likely to raise similar emotive issues in the coming days to stay in the reckoning ahead of cvic polls across Maharashtra, which also constitutes the race to the prestigious Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
According to political observers, flagging the issueof Pakistani artists alongside civic matters likepothole-ridden roads in the megapolis, forms part of the MNS's strategy to play on sentiments of the city dwellers, thoughthe party rebuts such a suggestion.
MNS vice-president and spokesperson Vageesh Saraswat rejected as unfounded the criticism that its campaign against Pakistani artists was based on political considerations.
"We have raised the potholes issue and filed complaintsagainst engineers of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai(MCGM) in all the 93 police stations in Mumbai.
Our corporators Sandeep Deshpande and Manish Dhuri were arrested and sent to custody. They were entitled to bail, but did notapply for it, seeking to send out a message that to improve Mumbai, we are ready to go to jail," Saraswat told PTI.
Gearing up for civic polls, the Maharashtra NavnirmanSena (MNS) has also taken certain steps to strengthen the organisational structure.
"In Mumbai, we have put one leader each in charge oftwo Assembly segments. Inefficient office-bearers have been replaced. In other cities like Nashik, Pune, we have identified the leader for each city and has also chosen the deputy. In each city, a woman leader has been assigned the task ofstrengthening the women's wing," Saraswat said.
Factoring in recent delimitation of wards, the party will also make changes in the work allotment to office-bearers and leaders. Party supremo Raj Thackeray himself will visit each ward-level office in Mumbai and interact with office-bearers,MNS sources said, adding the party expects the common man to connect with issues raised by it.
"We will contest the elections on our own. If there is an offer for alliance, we are open to it," he said adding that the process of identifying candidates is being done. Currently, MNS has 27 corporators in Mumbai civic body.
However, the party fared poorly in the Assembly pollsin 2014, falling far behind BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP. Civic polls in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur arescheduled early in 2017 and seen as an opportunityfor the party to grab some space and remain in the reckoningin state politics.
MNS is planning to contest all corporations and field candidates in selected places for municipal councils and zilla parishad elections, party sources said.