Maharashtra Navanirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has claimed at a rally that he will continue to fight for the cause of ‘Marathi Manoos’ (Marathi speaking population) and has no agenda to take up Hindutva as an ideology for his party.
“The media has reported that because I am holding a protest rally to condemn violence committed by some Islamic groups, I would have an Hindutva agenda on my mind. But I want to clarify that there is no such agenda. I will stick to the Marathi manoos agenda,” said Raj.
A protest rally to condemn attacks on media and policemen, which took place on August 11 at Azad Maidan, was organised by MNS. The rally went off peacefully without any untoward incident. Mumbai Police had put over 15,000 men out on the roads to ensure peace during the rally. An officer said about 50,000 people took part in the MNS rally.
Thousands of MNS supporters gathered at Girgaum Chowpaty and marched towards Azad Maidan under Raj Thackeray’s leadership. This caused a lot of traffic chaos on Marine Drive and near the Chatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus area in the afternoon. Raj Thackeray had said earlier that he will take out a march to demand the resignation of home minister RR Patil and police commissioner Arup Patnaik for their alleged inability to handle violence that took place on August 11. Speaking at the rally, Thackeray said, “the sole purpose of today’s rally is to demand state home minister and city police commissioner’s resignations. What happened on August 11 was shameful. Police and media were attacked. But I am not doing this because the attackers happened to be Muslims but because policemen who were attacked were Maharashtrians. My information is that most attackers were from outside and many were migrants from Bangladesh. I will not tolerate outsiders attacking policemen from my state.” Thackeray said that it was very dangerous that more and more incidents of attacks on policemen were being reported in Mumbai city.
Since Raj Thackeray announced Tuesday’s protest march and rally, there was widespread speculation in a section of media whether he was shifting focus from his Marathi speaking supporters to Hindutva, in order to attract larger number of voters. However he denied this and claimed that he will stick to his Marathi manoos agenda, without diluting it.