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Gag gone, Raj stands firm

india Updated: Mar 25, 2008 04:19 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray on Monday said he was firm on his stand against north Indian migrants. In his first speech since a police order more than a month ago barred him from speaking in public following some unrest in the city, Thackeray categorically said he would not budge from his position.

“I want to make it clear that I will continue with my agitation and I am firm on my stand,” Thackeray added.

He was also critical of those who opposed his stance.

“Fourteen north Indians were killed in Manipur recently but not a single voice was heard. Where are the people who were after me for my speeches?” he said at a party function at Shivaji Park to mark the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji. “This only shows these people were only interested in Maharashtra and ‘Money’pur (Mumbai).”

In February, Thackeray had gone on a tirade against north Indians in the state. The result was North Indians and establishments owned or run by them were attacked by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena cadres.

Outrage was expressed across north India and the police arrested Thackeray for spreading hatred, but he was released the same day on bail.

Technically the police have still not lifted the gag order, but nor was there any extension of the restrictions imposed on him.

Thackeray on Monday also made it clear that he would continue his unfinished agenda after some time.

“I am keeping quiet as this is the exam season and the assembly session is also on. I don’t want to trouble them at this moment,” he said.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena-organised function was a grand affair, enacting the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The programme was presented by famous Shivaji historian Babasaheb Purandare and noted musician Hridaynath Mangeshkar. About 50,000 people attended.

The Samajwadi Party described Thackeray as a confused person.

“One day his party celebrates Bhojpuri Holi and the next day he attacks these very people. He should not be taken seriously,” said Mohseen Haider, party general secretary.