State moves after Delhi signal

Updated on Feb 14, 2008 03:00 AM IST
According to another Congress leader, the high command has been weighing the pros and cons of arresting Raj, reports Dharmendra Jore.
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Hindustan Times | ByDharmendra Jore, Mumbai

It took five days of political deliberations and a directive from the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party high command for Maharashtra’s rulers to order the arrest of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.

The sixth floor Mantralaya office of Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil, who also heads the Home Department, was abuzz with activities. A few hours before Raj’s arrest, at 4.15 pm on Wednesday, Patil met Director General of Police Dr P.S. Pasricha and Police Commissioner D.N. Jadhav and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chitkala Zutshi. The officials are said to have briefed him on the measures taken to prevent violence in the city after Raj’s arrest. Later, Patil sought his cabinet colleagues’ opinion.

According to sources, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is distributing his son’s wedding cards (see page 3), spoke to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil before ordering his deputy to arrest Raj and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi.

In New Delhi, Shivraj Patil briefed Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “Sonia Gandhi took NCP chief Sharad Pawar into confidence,” a senior Congress leader said requesting anonymity. According to the leader, Shivraj Patil assured Deshmukh that the Centre would deploy additional forces, even the army if needed, in the state.

According to another Congress leader, the high command has been weighing the pros and cons of arresting Raj. “They decided to arrest Raj once they were convinced that delaying action would result in a significant loss of the north Indian vote bank,” he said.

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