Targeting North Indians yet again, this time over a proposed autorickshaw strike, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday alleged that most of the auto drivers caught indulging in malpractices "were from UP and Bihar".
"Over 95 % of automen caught indulging in malpractices were from UP and Bihar," Raj told reporters and threatened that his party would "step in" if commuters suffer due to the "arrogant" behaviour of autodrivers.
"All such people are coming from outside states.... They are staying in Mumbai and Thane using bogus documents," he said while lashing out at trade unionist Sharad Rao whose Mumbai Auto-rickshawmen's Union has threatened to go on indefinite strike next month.
"My appeal to Marathi automen is not to side with such people."
Raj said the "culture prevalent in places where they come from, they want to bring in the same culture here in Mumbai and Maharashtra."
Flaying Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi for supporting the cause of automen, Raj said, "The reason why Abu supports them is because they also come from the same place like Azamgarh."
Raj's statement came a day after auto drivers went off the city roads giving commuters in the suburbs a harrowing time, for the second time in two weeks.
Raj is known for his tirade against North Indians. "Those from North India should know that this is not Uttar Pradesh or Bihar but Maharashtra. They should mend their ways or would be dealt with firmly," he had said last year during a rally.
Recently, he had blamed "hordes of migrants" coming to the city for spurt in crime rate and for the increase of terror attacks in the state.
"Sharad Rao does not have any other business. He even holds the civic body to ransom. If he continues to behave like this, it will be difficult for him to step outside his house. Let him be ready to face the challenge of Raj Thackeray and the wrath of the people," the MNS chief said.
Though the union insists that yesterday's protest was for the revision of auto fares to ensure that drivers earn Rs 25,000 per month - the real reason appears to be the continuing drive against meter tampering and fare refusal.
Blasting Rao over incidents of auto taxi rivers allegedly assaulting commuters, Raj said, "I want to tell Rao that Maharashtra Government does not have enough personnel to provide security to auto taxi drivers tomorrow if people come on to streets."
"If they want to show their strength, Raj Thackeray will show his strength," the MNS chief said.