MNS President Raj Thackeray, in his first campaign rally for elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), questioned the rising number of Urdu schools in Mumbai. “In Mumbai, Marathi schools are shutting down and Urdu schools are increasing. The parties governing the BMC are giving permission to these schools. If Urdu schools are rising, you know whose numbers are increasing and who is coming to the city,” Thackeray said, addressing a rally at Vikhroli.
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The MNS chief has been the last to start off the block in campaigning for his party. He will be holding only three political rallies in the city. Thackeray said he was forced to cut down on his campaign commitments due to an ailment of his son.
In his 30-minute speech, he claimed the ongoing fight between the Shiv Sena and the BJP was an act of showboating. “What we are seeing is two cocks fighting each other and, once the elections are over, they will go back to being together again,” he said.
Thackeray directed most of his barbs at the BJP and the demonetisation move of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The PM said post demonetisation, you are going to see a new Bharat. I am still waiting to see where it is. You have only made the common man stand in a queue and caused 200 men to lose their lives. Numerous companies have shut down and crores of people have lost their jobs,” he said.
He also took on the BJP for criticising the Sena on the issue of corruption and said the party had been a faithful ally of the Sena for the last 25 years and had never raised these issues earlier. “With what face is the BJP saying that the Sena is corrupt. You were there with them for five terms. You never spoke for so long because your people were benefiting as well. Now you have decided to speak out,” added Thackeray.
He also criticised the Sena for insisting on building a memorial for the party founder at the Mayor’s bungalow. “They only want to usurp that property in the name of creating a memorial. If that building goes, where will the mayor go? They want to send him to the Byculla zoo premises,” he said.
The MNS, in the 2012 elections, had managed to get 28 of its representatives elected as corporators. Since then, it has been a slide with large-scale dissensions of senior leaders from his party in the last 18 months.