The Shiv Sena Friday targeted Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray for leading a failed anti-toll agitation in the state two days ago and labelled him "a novice". "There were apprehensions that due to the MNS roadblocks, the entire state would be paralysed and the streets would be deserted... with only the (MNS) activists visible," the Shiv Sena said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece, Saamana.
"On the contrary, the streets were full of people but agitators returned home before 2 pm!" said the editorial, taking a dig at Raj Thackeray without naming him.
It said the policemen on "bandobast" (arrangement) duty did nothing but kill flies and "many were wondering where is the agitation going on?" "Never before in the history of the state has any major agitation ended in such a disaster," the edit piece said.
It also pointed out that the minute the MNS top leaders were placed under preventive detention, the second and third rung leadership collapsed and the agitation fizzled out.
The Shiv Sena's viewpoint came in the wake of the MNS virtually hijacking its anti-toll agenda and grabbing the limelight with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan assuring concessions on the toll imbroglio that has gripped the state in the past few weeks. The edit said that all political parties - in the ruling Democratic Front government as well as the MNS - woke up only after the Shiv Sena's agitation in Kolhapur last month highlighted the contentious toll issue in a big way.
Similarly, referring to the Shiv Sena's agitation against a Pakistani music band at the Mumbai Press Club, the edit said that its activists proudly spent a few days in jail - unlike the flop show by the MNS.
Hinting at a Congress understanding with the MNS and referring to Chavan's meeting with the MNS leadership, the edit said that the government has assured it would introduce a new toll regime before the Election Commission's model code of conduct comes into force. "The CM has given various assurances like abolishing toll on projects costing Rs.10 crore and less, removing smaller roads and projects out of the toll ambit and others. Now, shouldn't Chavan also declare how many seats MNS will contest in the next elections and its candidates?" the edit said in a sarcastic tone.
Adding that the state needed aggressive Shiv Sainiks and there was no place for "drama" in the name of agitation, the Shiv Sena labelled Raj Thackeray as a "novice" whom the people have no option but to forgive.