MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray launched a scathing attack against the BJP and PM Modi at a rally organised in Mumbai to protest against the deaths of 23 citizens in last week’s stampede.
“Modi has not kept any of his promises made ahead of the elections and he is diverting the attention of the public by changing the agenda to things like cleanliness and Yoga,” Raj alleged.
This is seen by many as another attempt by Raj to rejuvenate his party, which has not been doing too well lately. During the recent civic elections in Mumbai, Nashik and Pune, the party did not have much to show. Raj picked the time of the Elphinstone stampede and organised a rally to express anger against the poor railway network.
The last time MNS chief Raj Thackeray personally led a march was on August 21, 2012, when he protested against the violence against the police and the media by the Raza Academy in Mumbai. It is proved that Raj Thackeray has a skill to pick the opportunity at the appropriate time and also pick the public sentiment, but due to lack of agenda he and his party failed in the political examinations.
In this rally he said his party will ensure that hawkers are removed from Mumbai’s suburban stations. In 2012, MNS was the only political party which registered a public protest against the violence that did not spare even women police personnel. After a gap of five years Thackeray once again led a march on Thursday to the headquarters of Western Railway at Churchgate to express anger against the Elphinstone Road tragedy.
While addressing the rally, the MNS chief criticised Prime Minister’s pet Bullet Train project and said that no other prime minister has spoken the number of lies Narendra Modi has. “We citizens of the nation trust Narendra Modi, but he broke the trust. There is nothing that has been changed except that the rulers have been changed,” he said. “If in the next 15 days the FOBs are not cleared of hawkers, MNS will teach them a lesson and the railway administration will be responsible for the clashes and law and order situation,” he warned.
“We don’t want Bullet Train but we want the local train service to be made better,” he demanded at the rally.
Thackeray appealed to judges, journalists and intellectuals of the country go with the right and not to stand with the government if they are wrong.
The political and electoral footprint of MNS has been shrinking after the Modi wave in the country. In the 2017 polls for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the MNS polled only 7.74% of votes or seven seats. It had won 28 seats in 2012 Mumbai elections polling more than 20% votes and in the 2014 assembly elections in Maharashtra, the MNS vote-share came down to 3% (one seat) from 11.88% in 2009 (13 seats).