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Raj Thackeray reiterates stand

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Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray

Arunkumar Bhatt

Warns U.P., Bihar leaders

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday reiterated his stand on north Indians at a press conference where only the Marathi media was allowed.

MNS activists at the party office denied entry to journalists who were not invited.

“Only Maharashtra Day should be celebrated in Maharashtra and celebration of any other day would not be tolerated,” he reportedly told the conference.

“What happened in Mumbai in the past one week was only a reaction and if leaders of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar tried to demonstrate their strength here, such reactions would recur,” he warned.

“The South Indians and Gujaratis are living in Mumbai for the past so many years. I have never felt they were attacking Marathis or Maharashtra but I am opposed to the leaders of U.P. and Bihar trying to show their strength.”

He said that he talked of swords only after the Samajwadi Party leaders like Amar Singh and Abu Azmi talked about providing batons to the people of U.P. and Bihar in Mumbai.

Mr. Thackeray accused the Hindi media of bias as it ruled him a ‘criminal’ while ignoring the statements made by the S.P. leaders.

In an article in a Marathi daily, also he justified his anti-north Indian stand and the attacks by his party workers on taxi-drivers and shops.

He wrote that if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could raise the issue of turbans with the French President, if Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi could take up the problems of Tamils in Malaysia, how could he be called a ‘goonda.’

He called upon Marathis not to be fence-sitters and join him if they felt that he was voicing their concern.

Asked about Mr. Thackeray’s statement, Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal said law and order was a State subject and hoped that the State government would take suitable action against such threats.

He said sometime the action had to be slowed down or speeded up in the interest of law and order.

A top police officer told The Hindu that the plan was to pick up lower-level activists (of the MNS) and signal a strong message to the top man (Mr. Thackeray) instead of starting with him and making him a hero.

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