Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who is smarting from a defeat in the recently held Lok Sabha elections, announced on Saturday at a rally in Mumbai that he will contest this year's Assembly polls.
The MNS chief will be the first member of the Thackeray family to contest an election. Neither Shiv Sena patriarch late Balasaheb Thackeray nor his son and current Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray have ever contested an election.
But now that Raj has revealed his decision to contest the elections, will his estranged cousin Uddhav follow suit?
The Shiv Sena chief has earlier admitted that party workers want him to contest the polls.
If Uddhav does decide to contest the assembly election, due to be held later this year, Maharashtra could witness a high-stakes political battle between the estranged cousins.
In fact, Raj was willing to take greater responsibility by running for the Chief Minister's seat.
"People have a lot of love for and expectations from our party. If the mandate is for MNS, I will not hesitate to lead it," the MNS chief said.
The MNS, which was expected to eat into Shiv Sena's vote bank, did badly in the national election, failing to win a single seat in Maharashtra. Many of its candidates even lost deposits in the "Modi wave".
The BJP, which is also eyeing the CM's post after its splendid performance in the Lok Sabha polls, may not be too excited about the latest political developments.
The party had snubbed Raj Thackeray in the run-up to the polls after initially trying to woo him.
The ruling Congress-NCP combine, which could win only two of the 48 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, believes that it will benefit from Raj's decision, as he is likely to cut into the Marathi vote.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule has already tweeted, "Raj...glad you are leading from the front".