MNS chief Raj Thackeray is under fire from all quarters for his incendiary speech against non-Maharashtrian auto rickshaw drivers, but all he is going to get from the chief minister is icy indifference.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s hate speech has ruffled many feathers, but CM Devendra Fadnavis said it was just an attempt to grab attention. File pic
Even as a chastened Raj yesterday asked his party workers to stop following his instructions to torch new rickshaws, the MNS chief was given a royal snub by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who said Raj does not deserve any attention, neither from the government nor the media.
Two days ago, Raj had asked his party workers to take to the streets and torch new autos, claiming the government had handed 70,000 new auto permits to ‘outsiders’ instead of Maharashtrians. Raj had made the speech at an event to celebrate 10 years of the MNS, in what was seen as an effort to give the flailing party some steam. A day later, a brand new auto was torched outside the Andheri RTO by a group of men allegedly shouting MNS slogans. Following this, many parties from Maharashtra and other states demanded police action against him.
Dismissed by the CM
But the CM implied that the party and its chief were both obsolete and hardly deserving of this attention. “Some people don’t have political space and they may go to any extent, any level, to create that space for themselves,” the CM said, without naming Raj. He dismissed Raj’s allegations that 70,000 permits had been opened for allotment to benefit a particular automobile company.
“You [media] give them 10 times more publicity than they deserve. But the government knows when to react and how to react to such incidents. We don’t give them more importance than they deserve,” said Fadnavis at an event held by the Mantralaya and Vidhimandal Reporters’ Association.
The CM said that nobody could stop a person from getting an auto permit if the applicant has been staying in Maharashtra for the past 15 years and has a working knowledge of Marathi language. “To have a working knowledge of the local language is a legal provision which applies to all states in the country,” he said.
He said that providing security to non-Marathi permit holders was the state’s responsibility.
“We will not spare people who take law in their hands (to trouble non-Maharashtrians),” he said.
On the beef ban
The CM also responded to the demand raised by BJP legislator Bhimrao Dhonde that the beef ban be lifted. Fadnavis said that the ban was constitutional, as the state government was empowered to make such laws.
He dismissed the argument that the farmers from drought-affected areas wanted to sell their cattle to slaughterhouses because they didn’t have means to feed the animals.
“No farmer wants to sell his unproductive or productive animal because he loves them like his own children. The government has slated animal shelters in drought-affected areas and a large number of farmers are using this facility for feeding their cattle,” he said.
Speaking on the drought situation on Thursday, Dhonde had said that beef was the poor man’s food and the ban had snatched the poor man’s meal. He said that in drought, farmers are unable to feed even the productive animals, and cannot be expected to sustain the additional burden of looking after spent cattle.
On Mumbai land
Fadnavis said that the state was planning to monetise its land in Mumbai and elsewhere to generate additional revenue. Land parcels in Worli (dairy) and Bandra (government colony) are expected to be part of the scheme, he said. However, he denied that these transactions will amount to selling the land.
“There are ways of using such land for earning huge money for the state. We are working on a policy for making it possible,” he said.