Tension triggered by an incident of stone-pelting at Raj
Thackeray's convoy led to violence by his MNS party activists who
Wednesday torched public and private vehicles, including
ambulances, and attacked NCP offices across Maharashtra.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) activists allegedly threw stones
at vehicles of Raj Thackeray's convoy early Tuesday at Ahmednagar
and waved black flags at the MNS chief when his car passed.
In retaliation, activists of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)
targeted NCP offices in south Mumbai and suburbs, as well as
Ahmednagar, Nanded, Akola, Yavatmal, Parbhani, Thane and damaged
private and public vehicles.
"It (the attack) was pre-planned. The police remained mute
spectators. But for the presence of the police, it could have been
even worse," Raj Thackeray told reporters Wednesday evening in
Ahmednagar after he emerged from a meeting with his party
In an unexpected move, cousin and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray
rushed to Raj's support, terming the attack on the latter's convoy
as "unwarranted", and challenged the NCP to step out of the
Democratic Front government.
Dismissing the charges levelled against him by the MNS, NCP leader
and state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the MNS has always
played "emotional politics."
"Let the MNS build at least one institution and end its
dramatics," Pawar said Wednesday evening in Mumbai, while
dismissing MNS allegations that NCP activists had stoned
Following NCP state chief Madhukarrao Pichad's appeal to NCP
workers to exercise restraint, tempers appeared to have cooled off
by Wednesday evening after nearly 18 hours of violence perpetrated
by MNS activists in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra.
Around two dozen public and private vehicles, including state
transport buses and ambulances, were torched by rampaging MNS
activists protesting the stone throwing at Thackeray's convoy in
Ahmednagar Tuesday night.
In retaliation, the MNS targeted NCP offices in south Mumbai and
suburbs, as well as Pune, Ahmednagar, Nanded, Akola, Yavatmal,
Parbhani, Thane and other towns and cities.
During his ongoing political tour and public rallies, Thackeray
has targeted the NCP and its top leaders like Sharad Pawar, nephew
Ajit Pawar and Home Minister R.R. Patil.
"In democratic politics, anybody is free to criticise anybody.
But, how will activists digest the kind of abusive language used
by him (Raj Thackeray)? This is absolutely deplorable," an
agitated NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik told IANS Wednesday.
"If anybody takes the law in their hands, the police and
government shall deal with them appropriately," Malik warned,
adding that details of attacks on NCP offices, workers and other
places were being collected.
Virtually shifting into poll mode for next year's Lok Sabha and
Maharashtra assembly elections, Thackeray has been attacking top
NCP leaders at well-attended rallies and is expected to speak out
his mind again in Jalgaon March 2.
To the NCP's discomfiture, he has also raised uncomfortable issues
and questions pertaining to various departments handled by the NCP
in the state government.