Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has urged party workers to take to the streets, burn auto-rickshaws and keep pursuing the ‘Marathi’ agenda.
Speaking at an event to mark 10 years of MNS on Wednesday, he alleged corruption in the purchase of 70,000 new auto-rickshaws in Mumbai for which the BJP-led state government is issuing permits.
The MNS chief alleged that the BJP-led government’s haste in issuing these permits was to benefit a particular company that manufactures three-wheelers, each costing Rs 1.7 lakh.
“I have been told that all Regional Transport Offices have been asked to issue 3,500 permits every day, saying the necessary domicile proving 15 years of residence in the state can be produced later. What is the hurry? I want to ask (CM) Devendra Fadnavis why this flash decision is being taken.”
He added: “I have told you what has happened. Now I will tell you what you should do. When you see any new rickshaws with new number plates, stop them, take the passenger and driver out of the vehicle and burn the rickshaws,” he said.
According to Thackeray, almost 70-72 per cent of those who were issued permits were people from outside the state.
“The department concerned is headed by a Shiv Sena minister. We mean everything that we say about the Marathi manoos, unlike them. If they really cared about Marathi manoos, these permits would have all gone to Marathi boys and girls, and not outsiders. All they care about is the kickbacks,” Thackeray said.
He also hit out at the the judiciary in connection with the recent orders, including one which questioned the need for a 15-year domicile to get an auto-rickshaw permit and another which penalised MNS workers for illegal hoardings. He said judges should remain “within limits”.
Recounting the party’s agitation against the railway recruitment process, he said, “Today, scores of Marathi people are employed in the railways because of our unions. Even you should keep your eyes and ears open. All these things that are happening are unjust. We will have to take up a lot of such issues. Sangharsh never ends,” he said.
Prior to the Lok Sabha polls, the MNS had tried to showcase a development-oriented, forward-looking agenda. But, it suffered a major rout in the Lok Sabha as well as the Assembly polls. The party has since been trying to stage a comeback. Thackeray is set to address a party rally on Gudi Padwa at the iconic Shivaji Park, rival Shiv Sena’s home turf.
“We will be playing on the home pitch after days and months,” Thackeray said. “Big personalities such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar have had bad patches in their careers. We will have our share of bad patches too. So, don’t give up. We must keep working,” he said.