Bangalore, Oct 21: 'I like Raj Thackeray. I don't like his methods.' exclaims Shobha De in an interview about Raj Thackeray on Gandhi Jayanthi. I do agree with Shobha De. Raj surely is right in his concern, ideals, perception about 'aam aadmi' problems, but his approach towards solving the problem fails to take a stride. Raj reminds us of revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Subhash Chandra Bose and Chandrashekhar Azad. Though their approach was to gain freedom, they remain unsung heroes.
In the recent incident, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in Mumbai had allegedly beaten up the candidates and pelted stones at North Indians, who came for giving railway examination. The MNS activists had also created uproar at Thane Station late on Saturday, Oct 18 night. Non-Maharashtrian candidates at Dombivali's Tilak college were also attacked. Raj laments that Railway exams were conducted for the Class IV grade (for matriculation pass candidates) but the exam details were not advertised in a single Marathi newspaper. Raj accused Lalu of creating favouritism towards UP and Bihar and snubbing Maharashtrians in the process. In the wake, Maharashtra Chief Minister got Raj arrested. Instead of Raj going the violence way, he could have gone legally, filed a case and fought back towards such untoward incidents.
Who is Raj Thackeray?
Raj Thackeray was born on June 14, 1968. He is the founder and president of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (Maharashtra Renaissance Party), which is a regional party in Maharashtra. He is the nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
Once seen as the future leader of Shiv Sena, Thackeray started his political career with Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena party in Maharashtra. On 9 March 2006, Raj Thackeray formed the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) after being allegedly 'sidelined' by the Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav. Shiv Sainiks (Shiv Sena members) who supported Raj"s leadership, in contrast to his cousin Uddhav (Bal Thackeray's son), joined the MNS. The party was founded on the ideology of being the benefactor of the local Marathi population (Marathi Manoos), an ideology that the party members felt the Shiv Sena had given up on. He recently became a controversial political figure in India due to his rhetorical speech against people from Bihar. Incidentally, he has been alleged to promote violence in Mumbai targeting immigrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. His recent statement against actor Amitabh Bachchan and the Mumbai Police Commissioner are examples of his continued efforts to woo Maharashtrians by targeting immigrants from north India. He blamed north Indians immigration into the state of Maharashtra as the reason for a shortage of jobs for the local Maharashtrians.
Raj gains popularity...
In Feb 2008, Raj Thackeray's speech on the issue of uncontrolled migration into Mumbai from other parts of India created a well publicized controversy. Maharashtra's economy leads other states in India and its capital Mumbai has become a magnet to migrant population from states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. MNS supporters clashed with activists of the Samajwadi Party, a regional party from Uttar Pradesh leading to street violence. Thackeray also criticized noted film actor turned politician Amitabh Bachchan, a native of Uttar Pradesh, for taking sides in the migrant issue. Bachchan came into fame and fortune in Mumbai's film industry.
Thackeray, along with Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi, was arrested by the Mumbai Police on Feb 13, 2008 under section Section 135 A of the Indian Penal Code. He was granted bail on the same day.On 1 Oct, 2008 a non-bailable arrest warrant was issued by a Bihar court against him for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Biharis.
On 25 Sep, 2008, Bombay High Court Justice J N Patel compared Thackeray's actions to terrorism. On 6 Oct, 2008 Shiv Sena activists held rallies against Raj Thackeray after he suggested that Bal Thackeray no longer wrote the editorials for the Shiv Sena party newspaper Saamana in order to explain away negative coverage of himself without criticizing his mentor.
During a Non-Resident Maharashtrian Day interview with Maharashtra Times, Thackeray claimed that if he had been Chief Minister of Maharashtra the Tata Nano would have been produced in the state in spite of his record of job destruction. He again called non-Marathis residing or born in the state outsiders who are now living in fear thanks to his actions and claimed that future agitations of his party will be even more intense.
On 15 Oct 2008, Thackeray threatened to shut down Jet Airways operations in Maharashtra if they did not rehire probationary employees that had been shed in a cost cutting move forced by the economic downturn.
On 19 Oct 2008, Minister of Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav called Thackeray a 'mental case' because of attacks on non-Marathi job seekers attempting to take the railway board examinations by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists. Then on the next day some members of the Lok Sabha demanded that Thackeray be charged with treason for the attacks. On 21 Oct 2008, Thackeray was arrested on charges of rioting, which sparked further violent protests by MNS activists.