Firebrand Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray concluded his first visit to Indore on Friday with wit and humour instead of pinching political barbs he is known for.
Thackeray was invited by spiritual leader Bhaiyyu Maharaj to deliver a keynote address on Guru Purnima function at Shree Sadguru Datta Dharmik Evam Parmarthik Trust in Indore.
Speaking in Marathi, he said, "I seldom move out of Maharashtra as I don't get invited."
He looked visibly happy and said, "I am delighted to be in Indore, in the city of Holkars (erstwhile princely rulers). I feel I am in Maharashtra."
The MNS chief carefully avoided making controversial statements in his speech but made a veiled attack on northern states and said. "I'm delighted to come to Madhya Pradesh as the states above (north of) Madhya Pradesh invite me for some other purpose."
Thackeray highlighted the activities of the trust run by Bhaiyyu Maharaj, who has close links with the BJP, and said that it was doing a great service by working for the welfare of old and abandoned parents.
He said, "Twelve years ago, I went to Nashik after kumbh fair ended. I met many old couples who said their children brought them to Nashik on pretext of taking them to Kumbh fair only to abandon them. I want Bhaiyyu Maharaj to work in this direction too."
He wittily remarked that he was shocked to get the trust invite first as the card mentioned "Sharad Panwar" (Shree Sadguru Datta Dharmik Evam Parmarthik Trust chairman).
"I thought how Sharad Panwar (Nationalist Congress Party chief) felicitate me. But when I came here, confusion cleared," he said amid applauds from the audience.
Prominent among those who attended the function were Chatrapati Yuvraj Sambhaji Maharaj of erstwhile Kolhapur state, former Maharashtra ministers Harshwardhan Patil and Anil Deshmukh.
At the beginning of function, Thackeray and those present on stage presented seventh 'Suryoday Manavta Sewa Samman' award to social activist Sarang Gosawi. Gosawi, a mechanical engineer and management graduate (human resources), has worked for socio-economic uplift of Kashmiri youth.