MNS chief Raj Thackeray addresses a gathering at his first public rally ahead of the BMC election, on Tuesday. Pic/Rane Ashish
MNS chief Raj Thackeray addresses a gathering at his first public rally ahead of the BMC election, on Tuesday. Pic/Rane Ashish

In his first public rally just before the BMC election, in Vikhroli's Kannamwar Nagar, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray came down heavily on the Shiv Sena and BJP. He alleged that the fight between the two parties was nothing but a "tamasha" and that they were diverting citizens' genuine issues with their ongoing drama.

Frontal attack
"The fight between Sena and BJP has nothing to do with the city's development. If the BJP is accusing the Sena of corruption, then why was it silent for the last five years, suddenly pointing out scams now? Both parties are misguiding the people by accusing each other of corruption," he said.

Raj also took a dig at the state government's demonetisation move, claiming it didn't have any positive effect. "Due to demonetisation, around 200 people died standing in queues, hundreds of small-scale industries were forced to shut down and thousands lost their jobs. Even on December 31, people were hopeful that the PM would announce something great after his move, but there was nothing concrete in what he said," the firebrand politician added.

"Elections are going on in five states and the BJP has spent crores of money. If there is a cash crunch and the common man is unable to get notes, how did BJP candidates manage to get money so smoothly?"

The Nashik example
After a poor show in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well as the MLA polls, MNS is struggling. Even in the BMC, several sitting corporators have quit the party and joined BJP or Sena.

Raj's last move of forming an alliance with cousin Uddhav Thackeray's Sena failed after the latter rejected the offer and asked him to merge his party with the Sena.

Targeting Sena's 'Karun Dakhavnar' campaign and highlighting his party's work in Nashik, Raj said, "The Sena has been in power for the last 25 years in the BMC, and yet it talks about what it will do for the city if elected. What then has it been doing for the last 25 years?"

"Please visit Nashik; in the last five years, I have done all that the Sena-BJP did not in 25 years — a dam to solve the city's water problem for the next 40 years, a dumping ground, better roads and a botanical garden, which was appreciated by industrialist Ratan Tata; these are a few of the achievements of the Nashik Municipal Corporation," he added.

Raj also pointed out the pathetic condition of roads, closure of Marathi medium schools, and open spaces taken over by political parties as among the many problems plaguing Mumbai.

"Crores of rupees are spent in the name of road laying and repairing, and yet, every monsoon is the season of bumpy rides. In the last few years, several Marathi medium schools have been shut down and the number of Urdu medium schools has gone up. There was also corruption in the disbursement of tabs to schoolchildren. Most of these gadgets are not working anymore. Also, the open spaces created for the public have been given to private trusts and political leaders, with citizens being restricted from using or accessing them," he alleged.

An appeal
Appealing to people to not fall for the tricks being played by the Sena and BJP, Raj asked them to give his party a chance for the next five years. "If you give us chance, we will implement the kind of positive changes we did in Nashik," he said.

In the next few days, Raj will address public rallies in poll-bound Thane and Nashik.