Even though CM Prithviraj Chavan had assured Raj Thackeray of resolving the toll tax issue but he decided to go ahead with the stir for garnering political mileage.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena might be claiming that the agitation against toll tax levy was held peacefully in the state but there were incidents of violence in some parts of the state. Even though the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had invited Raj Thackeray for discussing about the toll tax issue but he refused to meet him and instead tried to derive political mileage by asking his party workers to go ahead with the stir against toll plazas. The MNS was only trying to gain its lost foothold in the state in an attempt to prepare for the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
MNS supporters since gathered at toll plazas across the state to protest against the toll tax levy. The agitation turned violent as party activists burned tyres of vehicles in Thane and deflated tyres of vehicles in Pune. They also had blocked the highways and forcefully asked shopkeepers to down shutters in suburbs like Kandivali, Borivali, Goregaon, Malad etc.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that the tension could have been avoided if Raj had met the chief minister, “Chief Minister had invited Raj for a meeting to discuss about the toll issue but he refused to meet him. He instead opted for a rasta rokho abhyiaan across the state. There was no need to go ahead with the agitation as we had already invited him for a dialogue.”
MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar said, “The MNS had decided to protest against the toll issue as Chavan failed to give a time frame for eliminating toll.”
Raj himself participated in the ‘Rasta Roko Andolan’. He was arrested by the RCP police at around 11.00 am and was released within two hours. He said, “The CM called me some time back while I had been detained and told me that we could meet for a discussion tomorrow morning. Accordingly, I will meet him tomorrow at Sahyadri (the state guest house at Malabar Hill) at 9 am tomorrow.”
After his release, Raj asked him supporters to halt the protest however they carried on with the stir. Several vehicles were held up at Chembur even as police tried to round up protesting party workers. Party workers protested at Monorail stations thereby causing inconvenience to commuters.
Mumbai police arrested and detained more than thousand party supporters including MNS leaders like Pravin Darekar, Shirish Shinde, Shalini Thackeray, Bala Nandgoakar, Nitin Sardesai and many others. Later on they were released on bail.
MNS leader Bala Nandgoakar threatened to intensify the agitation if the state government fails to address the toll tax issue. He said, “The further course of the agitation will be decided after the meeting. If this issue remains unresolved after tomorrow’s meeting then we will organise a morcha to Mantralaya on February, 21. Don’t blame us if the agitation turns violent in the future.”