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Lok Sabha polls: Raj Thackeray fields candidates; to support Modi for PM’s post

In a significant political move, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday announced candidates for the Lok Sabha polls and also declared his party’s support for BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.

“We will contest the Lok Sabha elections. I will show my party’s strength during the elections. We will support Narendra Modi for the PM’s post. Modi should become the Prime Minister of the country,” said Raj addressing his party workers on the eighth foundation day of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) at the Shanmukhananda hall here.

BJP has also welcomed the move by the MNS. The announcement by Raj comes days after former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari had met him at a five-star hotel, requesting him not to field candidates for the general elections.

Gadkari had asked the MNS chief not to field his nominees to avoid division in vote against Congress.

The MNS-Sena combat will take place in six Lok Sabha constituencies, including three in Mumbai. Raj Thackeray announced the list at a party conclave in Mumbai on Sunday on the occasion of the MNS’s eighth anniversary.

MNS’s Bala Nandgaonkar will take on Sena’s Arvind Sawant in Mumbai south. Congress’s Milind Deora and AAP’s Meera Sanyal are the other two candidates.

In Mumbai south-central, the MNS’s Aditya Shirodkar will contest against Rahul Shewale of the Sena. Congress MP Eknath Gaekwad is in the fray as well.

Actor-director Mahesh Manjrekar is the MNS nominee against Sena veteran Gajanan Kirtikar, Congress MP Gurudas Kamat and Mayank Gandhi of AAP. In Kalyan-Dombivli, MNS candidate Rajiv Patil will contest against Shrikant Shinde of the Sena.

The MNS has skipped the Mumbai north-east and the Mumbai north-west constituencies, which are BJP seats. There are indications that the party may field Pravin Darekar, MLA, or his brother, corporator Prakash Darekar from Mumbai North, from where BJP’s Gopal Shetty is contesting against Congress MP Snajay Nirupam, sources said.

The second, and final, list of MNS candidates will be announced in a day or two, Thackeray said.

Notably, not only Gadkari, but even his close aides Ashish Shelar and Vinod Tawde had met Raj at his residence Krushna Kunj on Friday.

The MNS chief has said that he would soon inform about his first public rally, where he would reply to all the criticism he faced in the last few days (apparently over his meeting with Gadkari).

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