Opposition parties were not speaking out against toll collection in the state because of vested interests, said Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray yesterday. Thackeray was critical of politicians from the opposition alliance of the Shiv Sena and BJP for not taking on toll tax contractors. “The opposition is in the pockets of the contractors,” Thackeray said. “Leaders in the opposition get their share from the contractors. Hence, all of them are quiet on the issue of toll tax.”
Labelling toll collection at entry and exit points to cities and on highways unfair, the MNS a few days ago began a campaign against toll booths across the state. Thackeray first delved into the issue of toll tax while addressing party workers in Thane earlier this week. Now, speaking at a press conference at his residence Krishna Kunj in Shivaji Park, Thackeray said for the next 15 days his party men would monitor various toll tax collection centres.
“Nearly 50 men from my party will stand at every toll tax centre across the state,” he said. “They will note the number of vehicles passing, the money collected and will even paste a board stating the facts and rules of the National Highways Act.” Thackeray warned that if toll tax contractors did not allow his party men to do their survey, then things would happen in the state that even the government would not be able to handle.
BJP states praised
Thackeray praised Gujarat and Karnataka, both of which are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), for the facilities and discipline on their roads. “Go to Karnataka, there the roads are well maintained. They have trees on the side of the roads,” he said. “Toilets and other facilities are made available. Why all these facilities aren’t there on the roads of Maharashtra? Similarly, the truck drivers in Gujarat stick to a lane, but the moment they enter Maharashtra they drive the way they want to. When the government doesn’t follow rules in the state, why would truck drivers follow?”
Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse claimed that Thackeray had woken up late to the issue and it was incorrect to say that the opposition had not protested against toll tax. “I don’t know how well Raj follows the working of the assembly, for I myself had raised the issue in it,” Khadse said. “I am constantly after the state government on the toll tax collection issue. So, saying the opposition isn’t doing anything would be wrong.” The Shiv Sena preferred to steer clear of the issue. “I haven’t seen or read what has been said so I can’t comment on it,” party group leader in the assembly Subhash Desai said.
Raj keeps mum on ‘Bar Raider’ Dhoble
RAJ Thackeray was asked at his press conference what he thought of ACP Vasant Dhoble’s frequent raids on nightclubs in the city, but the MNS chief declined to comment on it or other issues like the presidential election. “I focus on only one issue at a time,” he said.