Activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) targeted two shops in the city, which had put up signboards in Gujarati. The activists forcibly took down one of the signboards while the other was voluntarily removed by the shopowner. The MNS has over the past few years been losing its electoral support and increasingly trying to keep itself relevant in Maharashtra’s polity. One of the shops targeted belong to a popular chain of jewellery stores and is located in Dadar.
The other was a hotel in Mahim. Both had signboards in Marathi along with Gujarati. The owners reportedly told the MNS activists they had put up the boards because a large
number of their clientele speak Gujarati. The local police detained seven MNS workers after the incident.
“There is a concerted attempt at gradually sidelining Marathi. The MNS will not allow this to happen,” said MNS leader Santosh Dhuri.
There is no rule that stops shops from putting up signboards in any language, however it is mandatory for all establishments to have signboards in Marathi as well. The shops targeted had Marathi signages as well.
The MNS has in the past vented its anger against the Gujarati and Jain community, claiming they are trying to assert their presence and change the Marathi character of Mumbai.
The MNS has been fast losing its popular support, which manifested in the abject electoral performance of the party in the recently held urban local body elections in the state.
Senior party leaders took on Raj Thackeray and said the party cadre felt rudderless and there was a feeling the party had no specific ideological standing on issues affecting Maharashtra’s politics.
In a recently held meeting of the top brass of the party, a section felt the party needed to reach out to the non-Marathi population of Mumbai and the state, and whether the party should dilute its strident son of the soil stand.
Raj Thackeray is said to have shot down the proposal and said his core support base was Marathi and it did not make political sense for the party to change course midstream.
The recent agitation seems to have been undertaken keeping in mind Thackeray’s directive to harden its pro-Marathi stand.