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‘It was a trap was laid for me; false cases would have been lodged against my partymen’, claims Raj Thackeray after postponing his Ayodhya trip

Urges PM Modi to quickly enact the Uniform Civil Code, a law on population control and rename Aurangabad to ‘Sambhajinagar’

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday claimed he had deliberately put his tour of the holy city of Ayodhya on hold as did not want false cases to be lodged against MNS workers.

Addressing a rally at Ganesh Kala Krida Kendra in Pune on Sunday, the MNS chief urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to quickly bring about the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a law on population control and to rename the city of Aurangabad in Marathwada region to ‘Sambhajinagar’ (after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s son, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj). 

“False cases were to have been slapped on MNS workers had they accompanied me to Ayodhya. But I did not fall for this trap as I did not want my MNS activists to languish in jails there. I can endure criticism (for postponing the Ayodhya visit), but I will not let my children (MNS workers) get stuck there,” he said.

Targeting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Brij Bhushan Singh, who had vociferously opposed Raj Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya, the MNS chief said: “Why have certain people awakened to the fact after 14-15 years that I must seek an apology for the alleged mistreatment of north Indians? Where were these leaders all this time?” 

It may be recalled that Brij Bhushan Singh had demanded an apology from Raj Thackeray on account of the MNS’ past mistreatment of north Indians after MNS activists had assaulted a number of north Indian aspirants across the State during the railway recruitment exams in 2008. The MNS chief had then demanded that local Maharashtrians be given jobs instead.

However, Raj Thackeray had refused to respond to Brij Bhushan Singh. In his address, he defended the incidents of 2008 by stressing that the melee began after one of the aspirants had reportedly abused an MNS worker. 

The MNS chief then launched a broadside against both Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and his estranged cousin, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.  

Taking on the Chief Minister, Raj Thackeray accused his estranged cousin of “destroying” the late (Sena founder) Bal Thackeray’s credibility. 

The MNS chief remarked, “Aaditya Thackeray says Balasaheb would have been happy today to see the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition [of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress). Sharad Pawar says we (Balasaheb Thackeray and himself) used to fight in the morning and have dinner together at night…the Shiv Sena workers do not know these people are destroying Balasaheb Thackeray’s credibility.”

Terming Uddhav Thackeray’s claims on the Shiv Sena being the real ‘Hindutva’ party as “utterly hollow”, Raj Thackeray demanded why had Aurangabad not yet been renamed as ‘Sambhajinagar’ despite the Sena being the prime votary on this issue. 

Raj Thackeray mocking Uddhav Thackeray ‘Hindutva’ sabre-rattling with the BJP and the MNS further remarked, “Despite having been in power for so many years, you (Uddhav Thackeray & Sena) have not solved the problem of renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar because you want to keep it alive for every election… Do you think ‘Hindutva’ is like selling washing powder, as if the Sena’s ‘Hindutva’ is a ‘purer’ detergent which would wash clothes better.”

Arguing that the Hindu community wanted results, the MNS chief said that his party, unlike the Shiv Sena, actually delivered on ground. Claiming credit for the loudspeakers issue, he said that for the first time in Maharashtra’s history, Azaan (prayer) over loudspeakers in mosques had stopped and noise decibels had significantly reduced.  

Accusing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of not taking a stance on anything, Raj Thackeray added, “Show me one agitation over an issue which the MNS has abandoned halfway. We closed 64 tolls which were harassing the public. Was it not the responsibility of other parties to speak on this issue? We did not permit Pakistani artistes to perform at a time when tensions between the two countries were fraught. When riots were created by the Raza Academy along with Muslims from outside, only the MNS took out a rally against them. But have you ever agitated on the streets like us or do you (Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray) have a single case lodged against you on any issue?”

Lambasting the recent bonhomie between Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and the Rana couple in Ladakh after all the political drama that occurred between the Sena and Navneet and Ravi Rana owing to the duo’s threat to play the Hanuman Chalisa outside Uddhav Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’. The couple were arrested and charged with sedition. Days later, Sanjay Raut, who was part of a study tour with the Ranas’, was seen exchanging pleasantries with the couple. 

The MNS chief thundered, “Is Matoshree a masjid to recite the Hanuman Chalisa? There was so much drama and chaos with accusations and counter-accusations between the Sena on one hand and the Rana’s on the other…yet, in Ladakh, Sanjay Raut was seen lunching with them and roaming hand-in-hand with Ravi Rana. Don’t the Sena workers feel anything about this?” 

In the same vein, he lashed out at the MVA’s over its inaction following AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s ‘reverential’ visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb. 

“How can you sit by and not do anything while this AIMIM leader comes and bows before Aurangzeb, who tried to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj? Why does Sharad Pawar think Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to be “a Sufi saint”? Who is providing funds for the upkeep of the tombs of those who tried to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?”, asked Raj Thackeray.

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