Raj Thackeray to hold rally at Pune on Sunday ahead of Ayodhya visit | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Raj Thackeray to hold rally at Pune on Sunday ahead of Ayodhya visit

May 20, 2022 12:04 AM IST

Mumbai: After the agitation fiasco against the use of loudspeakers at mosques and ahead of his Ayodhya visit, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray will hold a rally Sunday morning at Pune

Mumbai: After the agitation fiasco against the use of loudspeakers at mosques and ahead of his Ayodhya visit, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray will hold a rally Sunday morning at Pune. In addition, MNS has now come out openly against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been opposing Raj Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit.

Raj is likely to attack his cousin and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)
Raj is likely to attack his cousin and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)

The rally is set to be held at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch, a closed auditorium, at 10:00 am. The MNS has cancelled its rally scheduled a day before at the Nadi Patra area at Deccan as the metrological department predicted heavy rains in the area.

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The rally assumes significance as it is the fourth speech since Raj Thackeray adopted a hardline Hindutva agenda. Raj was recently in news for his campaign against loudspeakers atop mosques.

MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said the rally will be a huge success. “Rajsaheb will clarify his stand on various issues at the rally,” said Nandgaonkar.

Raj is likely to attack his cousin and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray who had compared him to the Bollywood character ‘Munnabhai’ who was trying to ape his father and Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

The MNS has already started preparations for the rally. Pune MNS leader Vasant More who has been sidelined in the party for his opposition to the loudspeakers’ agenda said he would work hard to make the rally a success.

The MNS Pune unit is riddled with factionalism and this rally is supposed to forge unity among the workers.

The party, which was maintaining a silence on the opposition by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Raj Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit on June 5, finally opened up. “Brij Bhushan does not represent entire North India. There are thousands of people waiting to welcome Raj Thackeray. I am getting calls of thousands of North Indians supporting him,” said Nandgaonkar.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut also jumped into troubled waters calling Brij Bhushan a fighter. “We affectionately called Brij Bhushan ‘Netaji’ and he is a well-known wrestler. He also sticks to his words,” said Raut.

Brij Bhushan has pledged not to allow Raj to enter Ayodhya till he apologises to the North Indians, whom he had targetted several times since 2008.

Guru Ma Kanchan Giriji, a spiritual leader who had visited Raj Thackeray at his residence last year seeking his support for establishing a Hindu nation, came out in his support. “If he tries to stop Raj Thackeray, he will have to face us first. I have asked PM Narendra Modi to rein him or else we Saints are capable are stopping him. Raj Thackeray is working for Hindus and we all support him. If a Hindu like Raj Thackeray cannot visit Ayodhya, then what Mughals will come?” she told media persons.

After a series of defeats in both the 2014 and 2019 elections, Raj Thackeray adopted Hindutva. In his April 2, Gudhi Padwa speech this year, he first raised the issue of broadcasting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ outside mosques having loudspeakers. This was again repeated in his Thane speech later on April 12, he gave an ultimatum to the state government to remove them by May 3 to avoid law and order problems. In the Aurangabad rally on May 1, he adopted a more aggressive attitude.

However, his campaign virtually fizzled out thanks to the deft handling of the whole issue by the state government. Multiple factors played a role in this fizzling. The police department was able to convince the mosques to lower the decibel levels and they also muzzled MNS workers by issuing notices as well as externing them out of the city limits.

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