MNS chief Raj Thackeray praised Railway Minister Mamata Banrjee on Tuesday for her announcement to conduct railway recruitment examinations in regional languages.

“I congratulate Ms. Banerjee on her announcement to conduct railway recruitment exams in regional languages. I would also request her to put out the advertisement of these exams in Marathi newspapers,” Mr. Raj, who has often found himself on the wrong side of the law over his ‘sons of the soil’ plank, said at a party rally here.

Criticising the Congress for not taking the decision in the past 61 years, Mr. Raj said, “If they had taken it, there would not have been protests for the pride of Marathi language.”

A delegation of MNS leaders would meet Ms. Banerjee to formally congratulate her on the decision, Mr. Raj said.

On the suspension of MNS MLAs from the state assembly for assaulting SP legislator Abu Asim Azmi, Mr. Raj said, “It (the confrontation) was started by Mr. Azmi by writing a letter to the assembly secretary that he wants to take oath in Hindi. My MLAs never wanted to insult the House.”

Four MNS MLAs were suspended from the House for four years for attacking Mr. Azmi and their unruly conduct inside the assembly premises.

Lashing out at Shiv Sena for remaining silent after Mr. Azmi criticised its chief Bal Thackeray, Mr. Raj said, “How can they remain silent when someone is speaking against Balasaheb. He (Azmi) should have been beaten, but Sena activists didn’t react.”

Sena leaders were scared that they may be booked under criminal cases for attacking Azmi, Mr. Raj said.

Hitting out at BJP, the MNS chief said the state BJP was confused over the Marathi issue. “In Gujarat and Karnataka, BJP talks about pride, then why not in Maharashtra,” he said.

Mr. Raj asked party workers to communicate with people and build up confidence about MNS among them. He promised to come up with a new programme in the new year for the people of Maharashtra.

Mr. Raj also cautioned party men against “protests for sake of publicity”. “That is not the party tradition,” he said.

The MNS leader said he would undertake an extensive tour of the state from next month.