Raj Thackeray’s arrest and its violent repercussion across the state seem to have caused the Shiv Sena to feel insecure.
Asserting its role in the disruption of the railway board exams on Sunday, Shiv Sena, in its party mouthpiece Saamna, declared that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists were not the only ones who created trouble at the examination centres.
“Shiv sainiks reached the centres in the morning and created a ruckus,” said the editorial. “Boys from the new political party calling itself ‘Navnirman’ also came there. But nothing could match the aura of Shiv Sena’s saffron flags.”
Worried that Raj’s rising popularity would cause damage, the Sena made it a point to remind people that it was the first to initiate the tirade against north Indians.
“The Sena has always been fighting to ensure that Marathi youth get preference in all recruitment processes in the state,” the editorial said. “The Shiv Sena’s stance on the Marathi cause has angered the Yadavs in Delhi as always. There is no need to regret what happened and we have never used this issue to play vote-bank politics.”
Raj’s campaign for the sons-of-the-soil, originally a Sena poll plank, is threatening to eat into the latter’s Maharashtrian vote base. With the assembly elections slated for 2009, both the Senas will do all it takes to woo the Marathi manoos. The Saamna editorial seems to be Sena’s way of reminding its voters that it has not forgotten them.
Apart from its standard criticism of Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi, the editorial also lashed out at Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil for saying Maharashtra will provide work to those who lost their jobs due to the violence. “Is he (Patil) out of his mind? If there is abundance of jobs in Maharashtra why not give them to farmers who are committing suicide?”