MNS-RPI (A) workers clash over Raj's speech

Aug 24, 2012, 06:53 IST | Varun Singh and Ranjeet Jadhav

Around 100 members of RPI (A) youth wing adamant on protesting outside Thackeray's residence clashed with MNS party workers; free-for-all ensues after tempers flare

High drama prevailed yesterday afternoon after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers and members of the youth wing of the Republican Party of India (Athavale) came to blows at Dadar.

MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande (circled)
Coming to blows: MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande (circled) said that RPI(A) youth wing protesters started the fight and refused to heed advice not to protest in front of Krishna Kunj, Raj Thackeray’s residence in Shivaji Park

The MNS chief’s criticism of Dalit leaders on Tuesday during his speech and his earlier response over the Indu Mills memorial of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar are believed to be behind the RPI(A) youth wing’s decision to protest outside Krishna Kunj, Thackeray’s residence in Shivaji Park.

The MNS chief was speaking on the violence that broke out on August 11 outside Azad Maidan, which left two persons dead and scores of policemen injured. He criticised Dalit leaders for their inaction when a statue was recently desecrated in UP.

Taking offence, around 100 members of the youth wing of the RPI(A) decided to protest outside Thackeray’s residence, but were met midway by MNS party workers who had got wind of their plans. A free-for-all erupted soon after and members of both parties are blaming the other for starting the conflict.

MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande said, “We first tried stopping them, but they were adamant about protesting outside Raj saheb’s house. Attempts to convince them to give up the idea failed and it turned into a clash. It is completely their fault.”

Arjun Dangle, spokesperson for RPI(A) claimed otherwise. “Our people were protesting and the police should have picked them up. Who are the MNS party workers to stop our men? The MNS party workers even attacked our women protesters. Now you tell me what’s the difference between the MNS people and the August 11 rioters, who attacked women police officers?” Dangle said.

Dangle added that their protest was not because the MNS chief criticised Athawale, but because of the way he had spoken about space being given at Indu Mills for a memorial of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, which they found to be in bad taste.

Praise from Sena
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray said, “Protests like the one on Tuesday are required. All leaders should gather on one platform and take an oath to work for the betterment and to maintain harmony in the country.” 

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