Taking a swift turn towards 'Hindutva' from the previous pro-Marathi stance, MNS chief Raj Thackeray's address at Thursday's rally in Mumbai met with a thunderous response as he greeted the crowd with "My dear Hindu brothers and sisters," from his previous address' which usually began with--"My Marathi brothers and sisters", explicitly throwing a light on the shift in the party's ideologue. On Thursday morning, MNS launched Amit Thackeray, Raj's son, along with a new 'saffron flag'.
"Did you like the flag?" he asked the crowd gathered before the MNS leader. On the 94th birth anniversary of Shiv Sena founder and uncle Bal Thackeray--MNS adopting its new ideology, is tempted to fill the vacant 'Hindutva' place in the Shiv Sena's legacy, emptied by Uddhav Thackeray after allying with the "secular" Congress and NCP. To counter Raj Thackeray's move, cousin Uddhav announced on Wednesday that he would be visiting Ayodhya after completing 100 days in the Chief Minister's office of Maharashtra.
In a bid to replace its ally-turned-foe Shiv Sena, BJP is eyeing to rope in Raj Thackeray to rebrand the Sena's Hindutva flavour with Raj Thackeray's fiery brand. While Raj met with Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, fuelling rumours of an alliance, Thackeray has also launched posters painted in saffron with lines that read 'Thought about the ideology of Maharashtra, resolve to create a Hindavi Swaraj’. Shifting gears from opposing the BJP till the Lok Sabha elections, to harness Maratha pride and Hindutva, Raj Thackeray is presumably treading the same path his uncle Balasaheb trod- eyeing to truly live his legacy.
Last week, on January 16, BJP's Maharashtra chief Chandrakant Patil suggested that for the saffron party and MNS to ally, the latter will have to clarify its stand over north Indians, especially those from Bihar. "I don't think MNS is not ready to dilute its stand against north Indians. Therefore, we don't think there is a possibility of BJP and MNS coming together." However, MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande in retaliation noted that if the BJP and NCP can form an alliance, then anything can happen in Maharashtra. The MNS leader was referring to the BJP government in alliance with NCP's Ajit Pawar that last for only 80 hours.