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'If Sena can, why can't I?'

Denied Shivaji Park for rally, Raj Thackeray asks how HC allows Sena its annual Dussehra rally at popular Dadar venue

After the Election Commission, it is the turn of the Bombay High Court and the Shiv Sena to become the target of MNS chief Raj Thackeray's verbal barrage.


MNS chief Raj Thackeray will hold rallies on the streets

Denied permission by the high court to hold an MNS rally at Shivaji Park, Thackeray was unable to control his anger and wondered how the same court could give a nod to events organised at the Dadar venue by his former party.

"When it (court) could give permission to the Sena to hold the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, that too twice, then why not my election rallies?" he said. Thackeray said he was not asking for holding any other event apart from an election rally and could not understand why the court was not letting him do it.

"Now I have no other option but to go to the streets and hold rallies. Even if it means the government filing cases against me for doing so, I won't be deterred," he said. Thackeray claimed the NCP, which holds the home ministry, gives the go-ahead for Shiv Sena events but does not consider his requests.

"Since when did the court start deciding on what the government thinks?" he said. Thackeray said the Dussehra rally of the Shiv Sena was hardly a cultural event. He said that even though in the last two rallies the Shiv Sena had not followed the rule of maintaining the decibel level within permissible limits, it still gets approval.

"They use the stage to make political comments during the Dussehra rally; how can that be a cultural event? There have been cases against them for not sticking to the prescribed decibel levels," Thackeray said.
He said during elections parties should be allowed to use Shivaji Park as it was known as a venue for political rallies.

"The crowd that gathers for my rallies is so huge that we do need such large grounds. We can't go to faraway places like MMRDA grounds, which is unapproachable and where nobody ventures," Thackeray said.

He also claimed that private ground owners had hiked prices because of the silence zone regulation. "Every galli (lane) has a hospital now, so no place is open for holding rallies. We will now be coming to the streets to hold rallies as that's the only option left for us," he said.

Thackeray said he did not think that his speaking against the judgement amounted to contempt of court.
"As a citizen of the country, can't I voice my opinion on the issue? Also, the transparency of higher organisations isn't visible, hence I am forced to say such things," he said.

Environmentalists happy
Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation, an NGO that has been fighting against noise pollution and for the cause of silence zones, said: "The court's decision to not let political parties hold rallies at Shivaji Park is a positive sign. If there are hospitals in every nook and corner, then the patients in these hospitals do need silence."

Countering the argument that other grounds were unapproachable for the public, Abdulali said: "Anyway the people attending the rallies mostly come from faraway places, and they come in hordes in vehicles like trucks and buses. So there is no issue about how people will reach the grounds."

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