MNS chief Raj Thackeray has shot his mouth off in his tiresomely familiar, make-news-at-all-costs fashion, fuelling the Marathi debate again. This time, he asked his party workers to burn auto rickshaws belonging to non-Maharashtrians.

His followers, who seem utterly devoid of personal grey cells, did exactly as they were told. A brand new rickshaw was set ablaze opposite the Andheri RTO by the miscreants. Reports stated at the time of going to press that the culprits remained unidentified, but eyewitnesses said they were shouting MNS slogans. Social media exposed the crime — that’s what it is — with a video of the burning going viral on WhatsApp.

Now, we hear that Thackeray has called off what he calls an ‘agitation’, though we prefer to call it hooliganism, and autos will no longer burn. So Mumbaikars needn’t be all aquiver at the wrath of the leader who wants to establish his agenda through sensationalism and vandalism.

If one has to thank Thackeray, it’ll be for small mercies — his directive to burn autos was accompanied by the instruction to ensure that passengers are taken out of the auto first. Mumbai is so thankful for your compassion, Mr Raj Thackeray, simply floored by it, in fact. We never suspected you to be the softie — a facet of your personality hidden behind the sweeping bombast and dangerous drivel you feel compelled to mouth.

Thackeray must face police action for instigating violence, causing danger and provoking a possible law and order crisis. Things could so easily spiral out of control because of this auto being torched and, once again, Mumbaikars would have to pay the price for the rabble-rousing politicians.

Rolling back this so-called agitation is not going to cut it. Punish this leader with strong action, not only because it will act as a deterrent, but also set an example for our politicians, who have tremendous flair for shouting irresponsibly.

Even one charred auto rickshaw is one too many. This time, do not nab the small fish but net the big names. Let the leaders pay for what they have done.