A day after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray’s stringent criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Gujarat-oriented’ policies, MNS activists targeted Gujarati establishments in Mumbai and Palghar on Monday. A group of MNS workers took to the roads and went around attacking restaurants and other business establishments sporting Gujarati signboards in Mumbai and near Vasai on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway. The workers, many carrying MNS flags, raised anti-Gujarati slogans and damaged or defaced signboards in Gujarati language.
“Vasai is in Maharashtra and not Gujarat. We will not tolerate name boards in Gujarati any more here,” warned MNS Thane district chief Avinash Jadhav. Vasai is around 110 km from the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and has a sizeable Gujarati speaking population, besides many engaged in business and industries. Similarly, in Kandivali suburb, a ‘farsan’ seller’s shop was targeted and attempts made to yank off the signboard in Gujarati language.
At least a dozen persons have been detained in connection with the two incidents and police have increased patrolling in some Gujarati-dominated pockets. In his hard-hitting Gudi Padwa rally in Mumbai late on Sunday, Raj Thackeray criticized Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP President Amit Shah on various counts.
He attacked the PM’s dream project of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train that would cost Rs 110 lakh crore and the proposed Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway at Rs 22,000 crore and the shifting of Air India headquarters and International Financial Centre from Mumbai to Gujarat among others. “This is part of a sinister strategy. After failing to sever Mumbai from Maharashtra, the Modi government is deliberately trying to marginalize Mumbai for the benefit of Ahmedabad and Gujarat as they have not forgotten the past,” Thackeray claimed.
Accusing Modi of being partial to Gujarat, he questioned the need to take all foreign dignitaries to Ahmedabad and not to other cities like Chennai or Bengaluru or Mumbai. To prove his point, he read out a list of international VVIPs who have visited Gujarat in the past four years or so, including from China and Japan.
Warning of the possibility of communal riots being engineered in the name of the Babri Mosque-Ram Temple row to win the next Lok Sabha elections, Thackeray also urged all political parties to unite and work towards a “Modi-mukt Bharat”.