With two days to go for its public rally where a decision will be taken on the ‘future course of toll agitation’, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders are, however, finding it difficult to locate a venue for February 9 in the city.

Ground rules: While MNS leaders are keen on organising the rally at the SP College grounds, the institute has denied permission, alleging that the party is trying to pressurise it. File pic

While top leaders of the party are discussing the possibility of organising the event at the SP College grounds, the institute authorities have denied permission, alleging that the party is trying to pressurise them.

Flexing muscles: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers have put up large hoardings outside the SP College gate on Tilak Road, stating that the public rally of Raj Thackeray will be held at the college grounds on Feb 9. Pic/Mohan Patil

Members of MNS have put up large hoardings in and around SP College and other parts of the city, proclaiming that the rally will be conducted at the college premises. Party chief Raj Thackeray, who travelled to Pune from Mumbai via the Expressway, had not paid toll at any of the booths on January 30.

The next day, after a parley with office bearers, Raj had announced that the future course of action on toll agitation would be announced at a public rally on February 9.

Speaking on the issue, MNS general secretary Anil Shidore said, “We are yet to finalise the venue for the public rally, but the larger point I want to make is that in a democracy, there should be at least one ground or space in a city like Pune for such purposes. If we are not allowed to hold rallies, it is a very serious thing. Many people cite reasons of inconvenience to public due to such rallies, but as a democratic society, we should have some tolerance. If people are informed well in advance about public rallies, their convenience won’t be compromised.”

Sudhir Dhawade, city president of MNS students’ wing, said, “SP College has been almost finalised as the venue for the public meeting and our senior party leaders are in talks with the college authorities. We will conduct this public meeting somewhere else, if not the college grounds, and we are preparing to make it a huge success.”

Anant Mate, vice-president of Shikshan Prasarak Mandali that runs SP College, said, “MNS leaders are putting tremendous pressure on us to allow them to conduct the public rally at our college grounds. However, we are firm on our decision of not granting them permission. In an earlier instance involving another political party, we, as an educational institute, had put up the same approach.”

“Due to political rallies, the functioning of the college and hostel would be affected. We have had bad experiences in the past, where some untoward incidents took place and law and order was disrupted. So, we don’t want to give the ground to any political party to conduct air rally. We have conveyed our stand to MNS in writing today,” he added.