Chief Minister says state government is seeking legal opinion
MUMBAI: Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced on Wednesday in New Delhi that his government is seeking legal opinion on whether action can be initiated against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and party MP Sanjay Raut, editor and executive editor, respectively, of party organ Saamna, for publishing an allegedly inflammatory editorial.
The strongly worded editorial titled Ek Bihar, Sau Bimaar railed against the people of Bihar in general and members of Parliament from the state in particular. The editorial caused a ruckus in New Delhi. The matter was raised in the Lok Sabha with MPs from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh objecting to Thackeray’s remarks and those of his nephew Raj.
Deshmukh met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of developments in the state following the anti-North Indian campaign unleashed by the MNS and Shiv Sena.
The meeting assumed significance as dissidents within the party have given a memorandum to 10 Janpath arguing that the government is soft-peddling on the Sena and MNS.
Sonia upset: But a party source said Sonia blasted both Deshmukh and revenue minister Narayan Rane for indulging in petty politics instead of addressing state matters.
Later, the chief minister, facing a hostile media, asserted that his administration was not failing in its duties. “I don’t have to take lessons on how to run the government,” he retorted when he was asked repeatedly why Thackeray was not arrested.
“I have never said the government is not going to act,” he said. “But there are certain procedures one has to follow before initiating any action. I have to know exactly what section should be applied in the act.”
In Mumbai a senior home official told DNA that the CM’s office was yet to communicate any such order to the department. But he said the law and judiciary department had been told informally to find out whether the editorial violates constitutional guidelines.
Joint commissioner of police (law and order) KL Prasad also said the police had taken note of the editorial and sought legal opinion to find out whether they could proceed against the editor and publisher.
Raut, however, said, “Deshmukh must remember that he represents Maharashtra and Mumbai. If some Bihari MPs have abused Maharashtra and Mumbai, it was his job to condemn it and answer them. If the Shiv Sena and Saamna are discharging his responsibility, he should have thanked us. But if he is talking of taking legal action against us, then he is insulting the eight crore Marathi-speaking people of Maharashtra.”
Raut insisted that the editorial was strictly within the framework of law. “We are not afraid of any action if we are writing something in the larger interest of our people,” he said.
What Saamna said
(By criticising Maharashtrians) Bihar MPs have shown their true colours... These Bihari MPs have rotten brains... Mumbai had been feeding them for years but now they are spitting in the same plate from which they have eaten... JD-U MP Prabhunath Singh, who should have been in jail, is sitting in Parliament... The waters of the Ganga have been polluted by the sins of Biharis... Biharis are a problem and they are being killed in Assam, criticised in Karnataka, have no place in the southern states. Not only this, they are not wanted even in Punjab and Haryana... Bihar is nothing but a virtual hell.