A day after the Congress denied having struck any deal with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the Legislative Council elections, MNS chief Raj Thackeray openly spoke of an understanding with the ruling parties to support their candidates.
"It is important for me to ensure that my four suspended legislators get back to the House because they have been elected by lakhs of voters,"Raj said. He said it was injustice to the voters of these four constituencies if their legislators are not allowed to function.
MNS legislators Shishir Shinde, Ramesh Vanjhale, Ram Kadam and Vasant Gite were suspended for four years from the Assembly for assaulting Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Asim Azmi for taking his oath in Hindi and not Marathi as demanded by the MNS.
Raj was also caustic in his criticism of the Shiv Sena, which has been accusing him of ensuring the defeat of its candidate in return for monetary gains.
Sena chief Bal Thackeray in his editorial in the party mouthpiece, Saamna, has blamed the MNS for causing the defeat of its candidate Anil Parab and creating obstacles in its "fight for the Marathi manoos".
Alleging that MNS took money to vote the ruling party-backed fourth candidate, Thackeray termed the party as "Dhanase"(a pun on its acronym Manase).
"All the 13 votes of Dhanase were given to the fourth candidate of the Congress, Vijay Sawant, in return for money, creating a problem for the Sena which is fighting for the cause of Marathi people," Thackeray said in the Saamna on Saturday.
Raj dismissed these allegations. "The problem with the Sena is instead of accepting defeat gracefully, it always blames others. The time has come for it to introspect,"he said.
"My party is an independent party and we have the right to decide how we should vote. No one needs to advise us."
He also lashed out at Pritish Nandy and Rajkumar Dhoot, who were elected to the Rajya Sabha on the Sena’s ticket, and Lalchand Rathod, Ghanshyam Dube who were elected to the Legislative Council.
"Are these people some well known social workers to be given tickets? I wonder about the amounts of money that must have changed hands to ensure tickets for them,"Raj said.
The elections to the 10 Legislative Council seats made headlines because there was hectic activity among all 11 candidates and their top leaders to ensure victory.
Sawant, an Independent candidate backed by the Congress, upset the calculations of the Sena and won the seat.