All Marathi papers covered the arrest of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray and Samawaj Party’s (SP) Maharashtra president Abu Azmi extensively.
The drama that police and state machinery staged to get the duo arrested, followed by their immediate release on bail, was the mainstay of all Marathi papers last week. The edits severely condemned the violence unleashed thereafter, along with news channels’ blowing up of the issue.
Maharashtra Times’ edit said that Raj’s arrest was a big farce, from which he emerged with pomp and style. It condemned the violence unleashed after Raj’s arrest that forced thousands of migrant workers to uproot themselves from various parts of Maharashtra.
In fact, a Maharashtrian man died in the violence, and the opposition jumped in immediately to capitalise on it. SP announced a compensation of Rs5 lakh to the family.
The paper also reported Ramdas Athavale and Republican Party of India’s (RPI) rally, saying it was no match to Mayawati’s rally held last year.
Loksatta, after Raj’s arrest, pulled up the television channels for their relentless replay of just two instances to portray the violent impact of his arrest. The edit blamed Hindi channels for making Mumbai look like Gujarat during its riots days. Another edit also said that this ‘Marathi andolan’ will not benefit any party, as the Marathi vote would now get divided.
Lokmat, meanwhile, carried a special on a population survey conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), according to which, there is a 21% decrease in the migrant population in the city since 1961.
However, the north Indian population has increased from 12-24%. Saamna’s edit asked what wrong Ambadas Bararao, the man killed in the violence, had committed. Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s message to boycott the Valentine’s Day was also carried on its front page.
Sakal’s edit said that although Raj had gained political mileage for taking up the cause of Marathi people, its impact was severe on the migrants who had begun leaving different parts of the state.
The edit highlighted how, with elections round the corner, these linguistic demands will only become more severe. Its front page special wrote how multiplexes are these days awash with Marathi films’ posters. The demand for Marathi has increased to the extent that Bharat Mata cinema hall has all its time slots screening Marathi films, from 10.30am to 9 at night.