Slamming Raj Thackeray’s remarks on non-Marathis getting autorickshaw permits, the Opposition Congress and NCP accused him of pursuing “hate politics” and demanded that BJP-Shiv Sena government take legal action against the MNS president.
Claiming that 70 per cent of new autorickshaw permits were given to non-Marathis, Mr. Thackeray had on Wednesday threatened that his party workers will set afire these vehicles if they are seen plying on roads.
Congress leader Gurudas Kamat condemned Thackeray’s statement and alleged that the MNS boss was making such statements to re-establish his political presence in Maharashtra.
“We condemn this statement made by Raj Thackeray. It is his old habit. Whenever he sees his identity getting diminished, then he tries to make his presence felt with such statements. Raj Thackeray and his party hold no significance in Maharashtra now,” Kamat said.
“I would like to question the Maharashtra Government’s silence through you (the media).This relates to the law and order problem, the Home Department is with the Chief Minister. He should be arrested at the earliest. What are they waiting for?” he added.
Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said Thackeray’s “open threat to incite violence” speaks volumes about the BJP-led government’s inability to reign-in “terror elements”, while NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said there are Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) provisions under which he can be arrested.
He said “it is shocking that somebody makes a hate speech and he is allowed to go scot-free.”
“When a non-politician like Kanhaiya Kumar speaks, he is immediately labelled an anti-national and put behind bars. Why is the same yard stick not applied for Raj Thackeray?” he sought to know. If he can openly speak of inciting violence in the present regime, it speaks volumes of the present government’s inability to reign in terror elements,” he said.
He said that the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has been rejected by people in the last 10 years due to its “hate politics”.
“It is clear that Raj Thackeray is trying to use the medium of hate politics to build a ground for himself, not understanding that he is getting rejected repeatedly for the last 10 years only because of this reason,” he said.
“There are provisions in the CrPC that can lead to his immediate arrest for asking his men to indulge in violence. If the BJP government does nothing about it, people will understand there is a secret pact of the MNS with the BJP to spread terror among migrants and get Marathi votes,” he said.
Mr. Raj claimed that around 70 per cent of those given new permits are non-Marathis, and demanded that only sons of the soil should be given licences.
Addressing a gathering of party supporters on the occasion of MNS’s 10th foundation, Thackeray had said, “If any such auto with a new permit is seen plying on the road, those sitting inside will be asked to come out and the auto will be set on fire…. Since Shiv Sena holds the state Transport portfolio, I want to ask how much is it getting in the deal.”
The MNS chief alleged that the state government’s haste in issuing these permits was to benefit a particular company, which manufactures three-wheelers, each costing Rs. 1.7 lakh.
The MNS is making desperate attempts to stage a comeback after the dismal show in the Lok Sabha polls as well as the assembly elections. The highly provocative speech made by Thackeray can be seen as an effort to safeguard the party’s vote-bank ahead of the 2017 BMC elections.