Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray launched his party’s campaign with an attack on his cousin and Shiv Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray.
Raj, speaking at the party’s first election rally in Bhandup, accused Uddhav of double standards. “During the Lok Sabha elections, Uddhav backed BJP candidate Mahesh Jethmalani in Bandra even though Shilpa Sarpotdar, a Maharashtrian was also in the race,” said Raj.
An aggressive Raj said that his campaign for the cause of the Marathi manoos had forced the Sena to take up the issue. “Before the Lok Sabha polls they (Sena) ignored the Maharashtrians but seeing my success they have now started talking about them,” said Raj.
Raj was campaigning for party candidate Shishir Shinde.
He criticised Uddhav for encouraging former Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam, a north Indian. “Nirupam has started performing Chhat puja in Mumbai.”
Raj also said the “dominance” of non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai’s Sena-ruled civic body was increasing and read out names of 73 non-Maharashtrian civic corporators to prove his point.
“Maharashtra has not taken the responsibility to feed north Indians,” he said.
Armed with the state’s economic survey, he quoted statistics about the drop in the population of Marathi-speaking people in the state.
“In 1991, the Marathi speaking population was 73 per cent. In 2001, it came down to 68 per cent,” said Raj. “The Hindi-speaking population has increased by 11 per cent.”
He said illegal immigrants in Mumbai’s slums enjoyed uninterrupted power supply while rural Maharashtra continued to reel under power cuts.
“Illegal occupants are given free houses while our policemen are thrown out of their quarters after their tenure.”