Nudged by their parties’ top brass, in turn pushed by their north Indian allies, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy RR Patil were forced to act against Raj Thackeray.
The Congress-led UPA includes Lalu Prasad’s RJD and is supported by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.
Under fire, said the officers, Deshmukh and Patil finally okayed Raj’s arrest late on Monday. They didn’t ask if the case would stand in court.
“They wanted to arrest Thackeray as soon as possible to placate their high commands,” said a senior bureaucrat.
Patil’s reaction after the Bandra court granted Raj bail was an indicator. He seemed content that the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief would spend a night in police custody. “We ensured this much (that the court did not work in the evening),” Patil said, declining further comment.
The pressure was on the government because it did not act even 24 hours after the attack by MNS men on north Indian railway recruitment candidates. In the past, north Indian leaders had accused the government of shielding Raj, who, they said, was being used to counter the Shiv Sena. When similar accusations were made again, the Congress ensured that Home Minister Shivraj Patil wrote stern advisories asking for action.
“The law will take its own course,” said Deshmukh on Tuesday. He did not answer calls later in the evening.