Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray

Thackeray brothers are a riot, and it’s not funny

i is paying the price. This is one score that’s just not getting settled and this latest episode of sibling rivalry threatens to reopen old wounds that this city has worked hard to heal over the years. What’s appalling is the ease with which the duo has invented a cause and is holding the city to ransom, brazenly flirting with danger.
After the violent acts at Azad Maidan on August 11, the city police not only did a good job of containing the riots within hours, it took preventive measures to nip the situation in the bud and ensure that it did not blow up the next day. Police commissioner Arup Patnaik came out on the streets, led his forces from the front, booked the wrongdoers and brought the culprits to book, all the while ensuring that the city remained peaceful. Far from patting the back of the top cop for an exemplary job, the two Thackeray brothers stayed holed up in their dens for more than a week, looking for an opportunity to capitalise on the Azad Maidan incident. Peace suits the likes of Anna Hazare; for the tigers and their cubs in the cadre, nothing’s as galvanising as a round of riots. Even the two victims of the violence were Muslims, offering no scope to give a communal slant to the deaths.
So after much thinking, both the siblings came up with the same half-baked justification for a round of jingoism. The older cousin came out to pay homage to the restored Martyrs’ Memorial near Azad Maidan and demanded the heads of Patnaik and home minister Patil for not safeguarding the respect of the city’s policemen. Thankfully, there was neither any mention of a non-Maharashtrian leading the largely Maharashtrian police force nor of the largely-Hindu police force bearing the brunt of violence by Muslim agitators. And then later in the day, the younger cousin, while announcing his rally to protest the government and police’s failure, made it a point to mention that the politically-controlled police was soft on the Muslim rioters, unlike the hard stance it adopts against his Hindu boys who protest for ‘just’ causes.
What’s worse than the blatant provocation by the leaders of Mumbai’s two mainstream parties is the effect it has on their thousands of charged followers. The MNS rally may be a show of strength, another effort to woo the Hindu-Marathi constituency, but the manner of its doing is threatening; the consequences would be far-reaching. Communal riots have done enough damage to the fabric of this city in the past, and the two cousins would do well to restrict their games of one-upmanship to spheres less dangerous – and probably more rewarding. It’s one thing to quell the mischief of faceless miscreants at Azad Maidan and another to contain the menace inflicted by purported guardians – and rulers — of the city. This is one challenge Arup Patnaik can do without!

From Bhoomiputra to Hindutva

Taking a step forward in his political career spanning six years, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday expanded his political plank from bhoomiputra (son of the soil) to Hindutva.
The marked shift is a clear indication that Thackeray is exploiting the political space of Shiv Sena and BJP, which sensed the unrest within the people following the Azad Maidan riot, but were reluctant to take to the streets on such a massive scale.
Thus, by adopting the tried and tested Sena formula of Hindutva and taking to the streets, he has sent a strong message that MNS is a political force to reckon with in Mumbai.
“The rally displayed Raj’s sense of picking the right issue at the right time,” admitted Vinod Tawde, leader of opposition in the state legislative council. “While the BJP kept its attack on the functioning of the home department, Raj’s decision to take to the streets would certainly uplift the morale of the police force, which has been at the receiving end.”
While Congress and NCP leaders dismissed Thackeray for indulging in “political opportunism”, they are not discounting the unrest within the people following the Azad Maidan violence.
“There cannot be any compromise on communal harmony in Mumbai,” chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
Besides, the MNS has also taken a conscious decision to prioritise the agenda of illegal Bangladeshis in Mumbai and the rest of the state, which has been an issue high on the BJP and Sena political manifestos since the 1990s.
Political managers in Shiv Sena have indicated that the MNS trying to hijack the Sena’s Hindutva agenda was “farfetched”, adding that Bal Thackeray still remained the “Hindu hriday samrat.” Posters depicting Bal Thackeray as the “only tiger” (Ekach wagh) along with images of him holding a sword indicated Sena’s attempt to hold on to its turf.

Raj puts up a Maha show
Claims Bangla hand in Azad Maidan riot
Wants Patnaik and RR’s heads to roll
Says his morcha has no Hindutva link

“Arup Patnaik must resign, RR Patil must resign...If they have some shame left, they must themselves resign.” As Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray reiterated his demand on Tuesday, the 43,000-plus crowd gathered at Azad Maidan roared in support.
He also alleged that violence on August 11 at the Azad Maidan had links to anti-national elements from Bangladesh. “Those who came here [the rioters] were not related to Maharashtra. They were from outside Maharashtra,” said Thackeray, holding up a Bangladeshi passport which he claimed was found on the ground after the riots.
Thackeray led a rally from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan without police permission to protest against the recent Azad Maidan violence and demand the resignations of the police commissioner and state home minister.
Pointing out that it was a single entry passport, Thackeray dramatically threw it from the dais and claimed that Maharashtra has become a “den” for such anti-national elements from Pakistan and Bangladesh who enter the country via northern states such as Uttar Pradesh. This, he alleged, had led to a flare-up in Mumbai after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992.
The MNS chief denied that his morcha against the rioters from the minority community signified that his politics was taking on Hindutva hues. “Raj Thackeray understands only one religion — Maharashtra dharma. I do not understand any religion other than that.”
He further claimed that the recent riots in Uttar Pradesh were also engineered by the same people and questioned why Dalit leaders, like Mayawati, Ramdas Athavale and Prakash Ambedkar, were silent despite the desecration of a Buddha idol.
Accusing Patnaik of creating hurdles in the August 11 rally and Patil for his inaction though the rioters attacked policemen, he said: “The police must never be attacked. If the morale of the police is shattered, where will the common man go?”
He alleged that Patnaik had abused a senior official for nabbing a rioter, but at the same time woman constables were molested and Maharashtrian policemen were thrashed.
On August 11, Raza Academy and groups belonging to the Barelvi sect organised a rally there to denounce violence against Muslims in Myanmar and Assam.
But the rally was disturbed by a group of men who went on the rampage, torching OB vans, damaging vehicles, looting police weapons and molesting policewomen. Two people were killed in firing while several, including policemen, were injured.
Thackeray claimed that the police had information of a mob coming to the open ground with weapons and pointed out that the Raza Academy had a history of violence in their morchas.

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