Mumbai: Raj Thackeray-led MNS has announced that it would not contest the Lok Sabha elections in the state. Earlier, senior MNS leaders were negotiating with the NCP for a possible pre-poll adjustment.

On Sunday, MNS leader and general secretary Shirish Sawant issued a press release stating that the party would keep away from elections. However, reports said that this decision could lead to a rift within the party before the Assembly elections due later this year.

A leading daily said the MNS’s decision didn’t come as a surprise once the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) announced candidates for Kalyan and Mumbai North East seats, last week. There had been reports that the NCP was interested in including the MNS in the alliance and was ready to offer it one of these two seats. NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Raj Thackeray had even held a meeting last month to finalise the seats.

After the electoral washout in the 2014 Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls, the party could’ve thought of cashing in on the upset caused within the Shiv Sena this time after the latter’s decision to continue its alliance with the BJP after claiming for months that it would go it alone after all.

In 2009, the MNS had fielded 12 candidates across the state and its presence had nine nominees of the Shiv Sena and BJP lose against their rivals from the Congress and NCP.

However, the MNS faced a severe electoral reverse in 2014, with all of its nine Lok Sabha candidates losing. The MNS also lost all of its 13 seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and Sharad Sonawane from Junnar in Pune was the only victor.