State must not allow MNS to have its way

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray is at it again; holding the city and state to ransom for his political gain. With an eye on the forthcoming elections, Thackeray wants to exploit the tricky issue of toll tax. He has openly threatened to agitate and has exhorted his followers to indulge in street violence, but the state government seems to turn a blind eye.

Mumbai does not even have a police commissioner at present, and Thackeray’s protest coincides with the inauguration of the prestigious T2 of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport and also the Sahar Elevated Road on February 12.

On a day when the city’s infrastructure should be the talking point, it could be Thackeray who would dominate the headlines.

So, how is it that when Thackeray threatens the government with violence, the state remains a mute spectator? When NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s daughter and MP Supriya Sule asks protesters to attack ministers’ cars, the government once again keeps quiet. When openly communal leaders like Akbaruddin Owaisi incite their followers to take up arms, once again the government’s hands are tied.

Not so when the common man wants to protest; at Jaitapur against the nuclear power plant, where the police opened fire. Not at Maval, near Pune where farmers died in police firing; and certainly not for the slum dwellers of Mumbai who are lathi-charged.

The first responsibility of any democratic state should be to ensure safety of its citizens as well as accountability for its powerful. Clearly, the state has consistently failed to deliver justice. In the garb of a political agitation, Thackeray cannot be allowed to incite violence. February 12 will be an acid test for the effective law and order handling in the city on a day when the chief minister himself will be inaugurating the Sahar Elevated Road. If Thackeray’s followers are not stopped for encouraging chaos, it will be a slap on the face for the Democratic Front government in Maharashtra.

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