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My good time will come: Raj Thackeray

Prasanna D Zore | October 31, 2008 16:59 IST

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"From the past several days some newspapers and TV channels have gone overboard speculating if Chhat puja will pass of peacefully or not. The media is painting a picture as if some people purposely want some problems during the Chhat puja celebrations,' Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chairman Raj Thackeray [Images] said at a hurriedly wound up press conference at noon on Friday. He castigated the media for sensationalising things and twisting his statements.

"My views get all the wrong twists and turns whenever I speak my mind," he said.

"I have asked all my workers to maintain peace and the reason for that is that all those politicians involved in politicising religious festivals like the Chhat puja have stated that there will be no show of political strength on the occasion," Thackeray added.

Congress leader and one of the organisers of Chhat puja in Mumbai Sanjay Nirupam told, "I have always maintained that politics should be kept off religious festivals and nobody should make any political speeches during such occasions."

"The Mumbai High Court has passed a judgement banning any sort of political display during the Chhat puja and we are going to follow the HC directive," Nirupam said. This seem to indicate that the MNS had got what it wanted and hence there will be no tension on November 4 when the Chhat puja is celebrated.

Nirupam will deposit a demand draft of Rs 100,000 at the Mumbai Collector's office either on Friday or Saturday as per the Mumbai HC directive. He said that he is accepting this directive under protest and will appeal in the Supreme Court after the event.

He believes that it is unjust to charge such a deposit only from the organisers of Chhat puja while having no such order for the Ganesh festival. He said the law should be equal for all but maintained that it will not be possible for thousands of Ganesh mandals in the city to pay such an amount as deposit as security for protecting the environment and maintaining cleanliness.

Chhat puja (the worship of Sun God) is mainly celebrated by Biharis a couple of days after Diwali every year. The event had become controversial ever since the MNS and Shiv Sena alleged that it was a show of political strength mainly by north Indians led by the Samajwadi Party and Nirupam who is from Bihar.

These two statements coming from the MNS chief and Nirupam are likely to play a major role in cooling off tempers in the island city of Mumbai on the occasion of Chhat puja.

"Puja should be done where it is done. First of all Chhat puja is not a Maharashtrian festival but a Bihari festival. Even so if there are some people from Bihar in Mumbai they are free to celebrate the festival as per their custom and tradition. They shouldn't convert the festival into a political tamasha (circus). What it means is there should be no political banners and posters splattered across Mumbai and Juhu Beach," Thackeray said.

"What's the need to do this when you have come to celebrate a religious event?" he asked.

He alleged that politicians from North India are purposely sending masses of people to Mumbai and settling them here to form political vote banks. "This is what I am absolutely opposed to."

He asked the Maharashtra government and Mumbai's municipal corporation to take immediate steps to arrest such settlements and mass exodus of people from the north.

Thackeray was at his acerbic best while speaking about the politicians in Bihar and Maharashtra.

When asked by a reporter if he will express his condolences for Dharmesh Rai who was lynched allegedly by a Marathi-speaking mob in Khopoli on the outskirts of Mumbai, he said, "If somebody dies during an agitation then it is indeed a sad event. We all feel bad about it. Only Bihari politicians could possibly feel satisfied by the death of innocents."

However, he rued the fact that Maharashtra polticians never uttered a word when four Marathi-speaking youth were thrown out of a running train in Maharashtra by outsiders.

"The media as well as these politicians are creating a hue and cry over the recent killing of a North Indian at Khopoli. But they had nothing to say when four Marathi youngsters were thrown out of a running train in Maharashtra itself. The perpetrators of that crime are still at large but nobody's speaking a word about it. The killers were all outsiders."

Coming down heavily on the Vilasrao Deshmukh government, he said, "Vilasrao Deshmukh is just giving us false assurances that he will not allow new slums to crop up in Mumbai but slums are being developed right under his nose. I will not allow anybody to deny the existence of Marathi people and their culture in Maharashtra. I am 100 per cent firm on this point. I'd like all of you to understand my stand on this issue. Apart from that you can do whatever you want.

He said that Maharashtra politicians living off the bones thrown around by Delhi [Images] have no backbone at all to stand up to the injustice done to Maharashtra and Maharashtrians. Referring to Maharashtra's representatives in the lower house of Parliament including the Shiv Sena of which he was a part till 2005 he said, "It is unfortunate that all the 48 MPs from Maharashtra were indifferent on this issue and didn't put up a united front."

Thackeray justified the killing of Bihari gunman Rahul Raj stating that had he killed innocent bystanders or some policeman had died in the fracas the media would have blamed the police for not taking quick action.

Asked for his comments on open support for his political movement from Revenue Minister Narayan Rane of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party's Chhagan Bhujbal and also on the fact that there were no comments from Shiv Sena's executive president Uddhav Thackeray, he said "Those with guts came forward openly in my support while some weaklings stayed back."

He also took the Maharashtra government to task for removing his security cover. "The politicians in Maharashtra should understand that my good times will also come."

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