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Forget political will, Raj has state support

Friday, 26 September 2008 - 3:36am IST

Congress-NCP wants proactive MNS to serve its political ends.

Congress-NCP wants proactive MNS to serve its political ends.

The high court did not seem to be way off the mark when it questioned the state government’s political will in acting against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray.

Ever since its birth on March 9, 2006, MNS has been nurtured by the ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with an ulterior motive of splitting the Shiv Sena. Ironically, the Sena itself was given a ‘protected childhood’ in the late 1960s by the then Congress as a tool to war with the Communist Party of India, which had a strong presence in Mumbai.

Not surprisingly, covertly the administration has provided Raj adequate platform to consolidate the political forum through an emotive Marathi plank. The purpose is to split the 26%  Marathi voters in Mumbai, which is rather loyal to the Shiv Sena.

The electoral merit of the MNS remains untested but its ability to bond with sons of the soil cannot be cursorily dismissed in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Pune.

Under chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Congress sees a double advantage in the strategy: A proactive MNS will divide Sena voters on the one hand and drive Mumbai’s North Indian community — which was being targeted as “outsiders” by the MNS — to Congress’s lap. North Indians, who dominate 48 essential services in Mumbai, constitute a sizeable — and hence decisive — vote bank.

Forget political will, it is well-calculated political design which has withheld the Democratic Front government from taking stern action against Raj. Or else, how does one explain home minister RR Patil engaging in a telephone conversation urging him to slow down instead of arresting his men indulging in violence on streets (see picture)?
Deshmukh is no better. He has often said, “My administration will not tolerate divisive forces. Nobody is above the law.”

Congress leader Hussain Dalwai said, “It’s a sad commentary on the administration which has come to a stage where it requires the high court intervention.” He put the onus of his party’s coalition partner, saying, “Whether it is MNS violence in the signboard or dalit killing at Khairlanji it shows an insensitive administration. The NCP president Sharad Pawar should seriously reflect on the working of the state home department.”

The NCP leaders have not been that generous with their very own RR Patil, or Deshmukh, as time and again the likes of Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal0 have told them in the cabinet meet to “either act or shut up”.

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