The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is planning a show of strength, with a protest march on Tuesday demanding the resignation of home minister RR Patil and Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik for their failure to control the violent mob at Azad Maidan on August 11.
The police are yet to decide on the permission for the planned march. The march will start from Girgaum and end at Azad Maidan. “It will be a great success. We will show the government how angry the people are with it,” said MNS legislator Pravin Darekar.
The violence on August 11 claimed the lives of two, and injured several others, mostly police officials. “Both [Patil and Patnaik] have failed to do their duty and should resign immediately,” said Raj.
The MNS’s local leadership is now gearing up for the protest march, going from door to door urging people to join, distributing pamphlets and announcing the event through megaphones. The MNS is also advertising the march on local cable channels.
Political observers called it a mobilisation drive. “After the municipal elections, Raj was searching for a political issue to mobilise his supporters, which he now has,” said veteran political commentator Prakash Bal.
It has been an uphill climb for Raj this year: he could not prevent the Shiv Sena from capturing power in the municipal corporations of both Mumbai and Thane. He also failed to make a mark in both the graduate and teachers’ constituency elections.
Also, his cousin, Uddhav has been getting aggressive after his recent heart surgery, which has perturbed Raj. On August 13, in his first public appearance since his surgery, Uddhav came down heavily on the state government over the violence at Azad Maidan.
The Shiv Sena dismissed the planned march as a publicity stunt, “What purpose will such rallies serve in the first place? Patil was not removed even after the Pune blasts,” said a Sena leader who does not wish to be identified.