Raj Thackeray lowers tone on Bihar-Maharashtra ‘visa row’

MNS leader relents after Nitish Kumar says Bihar Divas has no political agenda.

Written by Agencies | Mumbai | Published: April 13, 2012 6:19:46 pm

In a sudden climbdown after threatening to disrupt Bihar’s centenary celebrations here on Sunday,MNS chief Raj Thackeray today said he has no objections to it following an assurance from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that the event had no political agenda.

“Nitish Kumar told me he does not want to do politics over the celebration of 100 years of Bihar’s creation and that the programme has no political agenda. After this,I have no objection to the event being held in Mumbai,” Thackeray told reporters.

A mollified Thackeray,who had earlier been involved in a verbal duel with Kumar’s predecessor Lalu Prasad over observing ‘Chhath’ festival in Mumbai,said he was told by Kumar and his emissary Devesh Chandra Thakur,a former Bihar minister,that the programme was purely “socio-cultural”.

“I was told by Devesh Thakur and Nitish Kumar that it was only a socio-cultural event. I was also told that the JD(U) does not do politics in Maharashtra,nor does it want to in future. It’s okay if they hold a socio-cultural event here,” he said.

Asked if he has been invited to the programme,Thackeray responded with a terse,”I only celebrate Maharashtra divas.”

Thackeray said at his rally yesterday in Malegaon — where he dared Kumar to visit Mumbai to celebrate centenary year of Bihar’s formation — he had praised the chief minister for developing his state.

“I did not start it. Nitish Kumar made a statement that he does not need a visa to visit Mumbai etc. I have now been told it was because of some misunderstanding in the media,” he said.

Earlier in the day,Nitish Kumar had termed as “unnecessary” reservations against the proposed event.

“The April 15 programme in Mumbai is not political at all. I am going there to attend a social and cultural programme,” he told reporters in Patna,apparently referring to MNS leader’s threat.

“I fail to comprehend why anybody should have any objection to such a programme. In Mumbai I will salute its soil… its great leaders and saints who have guided the nation,” he said,adding people of the two states share very good relations.

“Let us see how he (Nitish) celebrates Bihar Din in Mumbai,” MNS chief had said yesterday,while referring to Kumar’s reported statement that he did not need a visa to visit the city.

Earlier in the day,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan chaired a meeting of top Home department officials to review security arrangements for the event.

“The chief minister asked top officials to ensure there was no law and order problem in Mumbai and other parts of the state due to the MNS threat,” a senior official told PTI after the meeting at Vidhan Bhawan which was also attended by state home minister R R Patil.

Chavan,the official said,issued instructions for providing adequate security at the venue and making preventive arrests,if necessary.

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