Raj Thackeray plans rally in Pune, home minister says he has to follow rules
After his campaign against loudspeakers at mosques fizzled out and his proposed visit to Ayodhya ran into controversy, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has now planned a public rally in Pune
After his campaign against loudspeakers at mosques fizzled out and his proposed visit to Ayodhya ran into controversy, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has now planned a public rally in Pune.
Party spokesperson Prakash Mahajan claimed it would be a massive rally where Thackeray would take the state government to task.
MNS had applied to the police for permission to hold the rally at Nadi Patra in Deccan on May 21, but withdrew the application on Wednesday. The rally is expected to be conducted next week. “Raj saheb will announce a fresh date and venue on Thursday,” MNS leader Babu Wagaskar said.
Meanwhile, Thackeray, who was in Pune to meet party workers, abruptly cancelled all his appointments and left for Mumbai on Wednesday.
Home minister Dilip Walse Patil said permission would be given, provided all the rules were followed. “If MNS applies for permission, the police will scrutinise the application and there is no question of denying it. Raj Thackeray has to adhere to the rules laid down by the police.”
The proposed rally will be the fourth one ever since Raj Thackeray adopted a hardline Hindutva agenda. This time, the MNS chief is likely to attack his cousin and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray who had compared him to Bollywood character ‘Munnabhai’ for trying to ape his father and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
Political analysts said Raj would be unsparing in his criticism of the CM.
“Raj will question Uddhav why Aurangabad has not been renamed Sambhajinagar and will also ask him to explain how his loudspeaker campaign forced the government to take action [against the use of loudspeakers],” political analyst Surendra Jondhale said, adding, “He will also attack the state on its silence over All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s visit to the tomb of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb at Aurangabad.”
At the tally, Raj Thackeray is also expected to clear his stand on the future course of his agitation against loudspeakers and on the threat by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh ahead of his proposed visit to Ayodhya on June 5.
BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has pledged not to allow Raj until he apologises to north Indians whom he has been humiliating since 2008. However, the MNS chief and his leaders have maintained silence on this issue.
After a series of electoral defeats, Raj Thackeray adopted hardline Hindutva and abandoned his ‘son of soil’ agenda. At his Gudhi Padwa rally on April 2, he threatened to play Hanuman Chalisa outside mosques. This was repeated in his Thane speech on April 12, where he issued an ultimatum to the state government to remove the loudspeakers by May 3 to avoid law-and-order problems. At the May 1 rally in Aurangabad, he announced to go ahead with his agitation.
However, his campaign failed to make any visible impact because of the deft handling of the issue by the government. The police cracked down on MNS leaders and at the same time, convinced mosques to lower the decibel levels in the loudspeakers.
Another factor that contributed to the failure was the unhappiness among a large section of Maharashtrians after they realised that these rules would also apply to their religious places, especially Shirdi Sai Baba temple and Vitthal Rakhumai temple at Pandharpur. This would affect the Kakad aarti (dawn prayers) which takes place at 4.30 am. The Supreme Court has banned the use of loudspeakers from 10 pm to 6 am.