Between May 30 and June 1, two of the biggest rivals in the state are likely to come up with their election strategies. Though the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is down after the drubbing in the general elections, Shiv Sena leaders are keenly following the run-up to the May 31 MNS rally for indications the direction that party will take, as well as its strategy.
For them, this is essential to counter the MNS strategy, and Sena leaders will get the opportunity and time to come up with a counter at its June 1 programme being organised to felicitate its MPs in Mumbai.
Both Shiv Sena and its arch rival, the MNS, are likely to project Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray, respectively, as their chief ministerial candidates during the coming assembly elections.
At the MNS rally in Somaiya Grounds on May 31, party chief Raj Thackeray is expected to spell out the party's position as well as future plans.
"We are waiting for the rally; he may come up with an ace, or give signal to the cadre. There will be ample indications as to what issues Raj Thackeray and his party will present before the people during the assembly polls. We will hence wait for him to spell out his position and then decide on our strategy. Besides, we will also be able to counter it at our programme being held at Andheri Sports Complex on June 1," said a Sena leader.
Though Sena knows the MNS does not have a second rung leadership and the organisational strength to support it, it still believes MNS can play a spoiler in the assembly elections.
"Though BJP-Sena supporters may like to believe that MNS has almost been wiped out, it is not true. Raj Thackeray, on his own steam, can attract a chunk of votes irrespective of the issues involved. The number of votes the MNS garnered despite the Modi wave is an indication that Raj cannot be written off," said a Sena leader.
"There are not many issues he can take up. In the current situation, it will be difficult for MNS or Raj to whip up anti-North Indian sentiments. He will have to come up with something better," he added.
Meanwhile, an MNS leader said: "We are in the process of bringing out a blue print for development of Maharashtra. We have decided to take up people-centric issues. Besides, we expect Raj Thackeray to give us some clear direction, unlike the confusion that prevailed last time."