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Trap for me; possible fake cases against my party men: Raj Thackeray cites reasons for putting off Ayodhya tour

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray speaks during a rally in Pune, Sunday, May 22, 2022.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray speaks during a rally in Pune, Sunday, May 22, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Alleging that a trap was laid out for him ahead of his Ayodhya visit, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday claimed he had deliberately put his tour of the holy city on hold as he did not want false cases to be lodged against MNS workers.

Speaking in Pune’s Ganesh Kala Krida Centre on Sunday, he said, “False cases were to have been slapped on MNS workers had they accompanied me to Ayodhya. But I did not fall for this trap as I did not want my MNS activists to be languishing in jails there. I can endure criticism [for postponing the Ayodhya visit], but I will not let my children [MNS workers] get stuck there.”

However, lest he be misunderstood on his Hindutva stance, the MNS leader urged Prime Minister Modi to bring on the Uniform Civil Code and a law on population control as well as to rename Aurangabad as ‘Sambhajinagar’ (after Shivaji’s son, Chhatrapati Sambhaji), at the earliest .

Old case raked up

Targeting Brij Bhushan Singh, the BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh who had vociferously opposed Mr. Thackeray’s entry to the holy city of Ayodhya, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, saying that he first owed an apology of the MNS’ past mistreatment of north Indians, the MNS chief asked: “Why have certain people awakened to the fact after 14-15 years that I must seek an apology for the alleged mistreatment of north Indians? Where were these leaders all this time?”

Mr. Singh had demanded an apology from Mr. Thackeray before he visited Ayodhya on account of a 2008 incident, when the MNS workers had mistreated north Indians. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists had assaulted a number of north Indian aspirants across the State during the railway recruitment exams in 2008, demanding that local Maharashtrians be given the jobs instead.

In his address, Mr. Thackeray defended the incidents of 2008 by stressing that the melee began after one of the job aspirants had reportedly abused an MNS worker.

Ruining ‘Bal Thackeray’s credibility’

Mr. Thackeray also launched a diatribe against both Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and his estranged cousin, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Taking on the Chief Minister, Raj Thackeray accused his cousin of “destroying” the late (Sena founder) Bal Thackeray’s credibility by continuing the Shiv Sena’s alliance with the NCP and Congress.

“Aaditya Thackeray says Balasaheb would have been happy today to see the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition [of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress]. Sharad Pawar says we [Bal Thackeray and himself] used to fight in the morning and have dinner together at night…the Shiv Sena workers do not know these people are destroying Bal Thackeray’s credibility,” said the MNS chief.

Renaming Aurangabad

Dubbing Uddhav Thackeray’s claims on the Sena being the real ‘Hindutva’ party as “utterly hollow”, Raj Thackeray demanded why had Aurangabad not yet been renamed as ‘Sambhajinagar’ despite the Sena being the prime votary on this issue.

“Despite having been in power for so many years, you [Uddhav Thackeray and the Sena] have not solved the problem of renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar because you want to keep it alive for every election… Do you think ‘Hindutva’ is like selling a washing powder, as if the Sena’s ‘Hindutva’ is a ‘purer’ detergent which would wash clothes better,” said Mr. Raj Thackeray, mocking Uddhav Thackeray’s ‘Hindutva’ sabre-rattling with the BJP and the MNS.

Remarking that the Hindu community wanted results, the MNS chief said that his party, unlike the Shiv Sena, actually delivered on the ground. Claiming credit for the loudspeakers issue, he said that first time in Maharashtra’s history, azan (Muslim call to prayer) over loudspeakers in mosques had stopped and the noise decibels had significantly reduced.

“Show me one agitation over an issue which the MNS has abandoned halfway. We closed 64 tolls which were harassing the public. Was it not the responsibility of other parties to speak on this issue? We did not permit Pakistani artists to perform at a time when tensions between the two countries were fraught. When riots were created by the Raza Academy along with Muslims from outside, only the MNS took out a rally against them. But have you ever agitated on the streets like us or do you [Uddhav Thackeray] have a single case lodged against you on any issue?” asked Raj Thackeray, accusing Uddhav Thackeray of not taking a stance on anything.

Bonhomie with Ranas

He lambasted the recent bonhomie between Sena MP Sanjay Raut and the Rana couple in Ladakh after all the political drama that occurred between the Sena and Navneet and Ravi Rana owing to the duo’s threat to play the Hanuman Chalisa outside Uddhav Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’. The couple were arrested and charged with sedition. Days later, Mr. Raut, who was part of a study tour with the Ranas, was seen exchanging pleasantries with the couple.

“Is Matoshree a masjid to recite the Hanuman Chalisa? There was so much drama and chaos with accusations and counter-accusations between the Sena on one hand and the Ranas on the other…yet, in Ladakh, Sanjay Raut was seen lunching with them and roaming hand-in-hand with Ravi Rana. Don’t the Sena workers feel anything about this?” said the MNS chief.

In the same vein, he lashed out at the MVA over its inaction following AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s ‘reverential’ visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb.

“How can you sit by and not do anything while this AIMIM leader comes and bows before Aurangzeb, who tried to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji? Why does Sharad Pawar think Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to be “a Sufi saint”? Who are providing funds for the upkeep of the tombs of those who tried to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji?” he asked, dubbing the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva as “utterly hollow.”


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 10:16:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/trap-for-me-possible-fake-cases-against-my-party-men-raj-thackeray-cites-reasons-for-putting-off-ayodhya-tour/article65446837.ece