iconimg Thursday, July 02, 2015

Yogesh Joshi , Hindustan Times
Pune, February 09, 2014
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) took the state home department's help to "pressurise" the SP College authorities into allowing party chief Raj Thackeray's Pune rally on the college ground. The rally was held on Sunday. Sources in the Shikshan Prasarak Mandali, which runs SP College, said police and senior officials from the home department had exerted pressure on the college authorities to break the 23-year-old tradition of not allowing political rallies on its ground.

Recently, the college had refused to entertain even the BJP's application to use the ground for Narendra Modi's Pune rally. Denied permission, the BJP prime ministerial candidate had to address a public rally at BJ Medical College ground.

"Till the last moment, the MNS pressurised us to relent. Those who called us to allow the MNS rally on the college ground included a minister from the Nationalist Congress Party and senior police officials," a senior trustee of Shikshan Prasarak Mandali told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.

The trustee said the college was threatened with an exposé of admission-related scams.

Sources said police had helped the MNS on instructions from home minister RR Patil, who has a good relationship with a senior Pune-based leader from the party. The leader, who runs a school, had allegedly admitted students from backward regions of the state on instructions from Patil.

These "favours" offered to the MNS by the home department officials come just a few days after party workers along with Thackeray were booked by police for inciting violence during a protest against toll tax.

Sources said the MNS was adamant on getting the SP College ground for Thackeray's rally, even though police had allowed the party to hold the rally at the Mutha riverbed ground.