'Why did Raj say sorry?'

Jan 31, 2012, 07:14 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

Party insiders allege MNS list of BMC poll candidates has clear stamp of senior party workers biased to kin, cronies; that's why Raj Thackeray, contrary to his disposition, apologised to those who did not make the list

Sorry seems to be the hardest word for MNS chief Raj Thackeray, his party workers say. Yet he said it, and the party men are wondering why. Right before releasing the list of candidates for BMC elections, Raj apologised to those who did not make it.

"The apology by Raj prior to the announcement of the candidates was unexpected and unbelievable, given the temperament he is known for," said a party insider.
If the claims of MNS insiders are to be believed, the out-of-character apology may have something to do with remorse over the influence that MLAs and senior office bearers allegedly had over the selection of candidates: The party cadre is not ready to believe that the list has Raj's stamp on it.

Unbelievable: The party cadre is not ready to believe that the list has
Raj Thackeray's stamp on it. File pic

Out-of-tune apology
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a party insider said, "The body language and the expressions on Raj's face (during the apology) have never been seen before. He is not known for expressing regret for refusing tickets to some party workers."

He continued, "And vibhag pramukhs and MLAs of the party had a field day. They have ensured tickets for their near and dear ones. Though the party chief had made it clear on several occasions that he would not tolerate anybody's relatives and cronies, the list reeks of such names."

The leader also expressed concern over the sudden zeal spurting among some of Raj's close aides. According to him, Rajan Shirodakar who accompanied Raj during the media briefing has not been very active in the last few years. "How he suddenly became active is surprising," he said. 

Some point out that going by the exam paper set for aspiring MNS candidates, it was unbelievable that the candidates who made the cut got 90+ marks as the questions were tough and tricky.

Doubt seizes ranks
"The list clearly puts the future of the workers, who have been working overtime in anticipation of tickets, in the dock," said another office bearer, cautioning that if the Shiv Sena returns to power, it will create an upheaval in the MNS cadres. The party may then have to go in for an overhauling exercise soon after the polls.
"How are we going to take on the Sena when booth chiefs were appointed as late as December 3 last year? The Sena booth chiefs have been working overtime for over a year now," said another MNS office bearer.

MNS spokesman Shirish Parkar termed the unrest among ticket aspirants as a natural reaction. "In every ward we have 5-6 strong contenders and it is a kind of force that the party organisation is experiencing. Due to this fact alone, party chief Raj Thackeray has apologised to those who could not be accommodated in the list. We are accepting it with heavy hearts," said Parkar.

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