Mumbai, Feb 9: Maharashtra Navriman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray today continued his tirade against the North Indians, saying if they wanted to stay in Mumbai, they had to show respect to the Marathi 'manoos' (people).
At a press conference, in which only Marathi-speaking journalists were allowed while the Hindi electronic media was shunned, Raj was totally unrepentant and asserted that the attack on North Indians in metropolis would be repeated if their leaders' came from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar and made statements affecting the pride of the Marathi 'manoos'. Raj, while not denying his partymen being responsible for the recent attack on North Indians and violence in the city and some parts of the state, said this was a reaction and not action against the speeches given by the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar leaders. Raj, the estranged nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray who is regarded as the original saviour of the Marathi 'manoos', said Samajwadi Party state president Abu Asim Azmi had stated that they would bring 20,000 people from Uttar Pradesh and distribute 'lathis' (sticks).
''This type of speech will not be tolerated again in Maharashtra,'' he added. The MNS chief said, ''It is not us who are to blame but the Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi who had said: Hum lathi batenge (we will distribute sticks).'' Raj had replied ''If they would do so, then we would distribute swords.''
Raj Thackeray said he had no problems with North Indians staying in Mumbai, but they should respect the people of Maharashtra. ''New immigrants to the city should be denied entry into the city, while those already staying here should show respect to the Marathi 'manoos' and their culture,'' he added. He said the Gujaratis, South Indians and Punjabis were also staying in Mumbai and bringing fame to the city and the country, but they never ever celebrated their state formation days here and knew how to respect the local populace.
He urged the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to take steps to educate the people about the culture and way of life of the Maharashtrians.
The MNS chief also said he would not be seeking anticipatory bail and the government could do what it wanted.
On the attacks on taxis, Raj said his partymen had told him that these taxis had stored weapons in them and, therefore, they were attacked.
Renting ire on Hindi media
Raj Thackeray today restrained reporters from Hindi electronic media from attending his press conference held at the party head office here today.
The reporters, waiting outside the venue, criticised Raj Thackeray for denying them entry and said that what he was doing was not fair and he should have called all the mediapersons for the conference.
The reporters, who were denied entry, waited at the gate of the party office ''Rajgad'' and took details from other reporters as they came out of the press conference, which lasted around 45 minutes.
Questioning the media's role, he asked how could it assume the role of being both the judge and the jury.
Justifying the exclusion of the national press from his press conference, he said: "It was media only which had played up my remarks (on north Indians and against Amitabh Bachchan), sometimes out of context," Raj said.
Defending his inflammatory remarks against North Indians, he said people from North India, especially from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, were snatching away the livelihood of the Marathi people.
As an example, he cited the problem of Marathi films facing difficulty in getting screening space in Mumbai, where as Bhojpuri films were doing so very easily.
Thackeray also had an advice for migrants, telling them to adopt local language when living in Maharashtra.
Taking a dig at the Samajwadi Party (SP), Thackeray said when Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa don't come to Maharashtra to address rallies, why do SP politicians do so.
He also advised politicians from Uttar Pradesh to restrict their rallies to their State only.
Clarifying his previously made controversial remarks on Chhath Puja, Thackeray said he was not against the ritual, but its politicisation.
Chhath Puja should be performed on the banks of River Ganga, and not in Mumbai, he added.
"When Amitabh Bachchan can love his place of birth (Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh), why can't I," Thackeray argued.