MUMBAI: After his son-of-the-soil theory failed to impress the voters in the Lok Sabha elections, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray has come up with another idea to woo the voters. He has planned to focus his campaign for the upcoming state Assembly elections on the “autonomy for Maharashtra” plank.
“I want autonomy for Maharashtra. We want to run the railway in the state by ourselves and connect to the districts. Why do we need a Union Government and national parties?,” he asked. Raj, however, clarified that he was demanding autonomy, not independence. The MNS chief’s stand has surprised his party workers because he has made the demand barely a week after he publicly presented his vision for the state’s development.
“We expected that our campaign would be focused on constructive things, as saheb (Raj) was talking about development. The demand of autonomy has come as a surprise for us,” an MNS official said.
Raj has maintained that his emphasis was on development only. “I want to give employment to every youth. I want to amend the current process of police recruitment. I want to build industries where they are most needed. For that, I need an absolute power,” he said.
He alleged that all the four mainstream parties in the state had failed to keep their promises. “They are all inefficient. They could not even build toilets for all, even after 60 years of the state’s formation.”
The BJP has alleged that Raj’s demand could be echoed by the other states too. “His views are dangerous. If autonomy is granted to one state, there will be clamour from other states too. It is not a good idea for national integrity,” Mumbai BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty said.
Political commentator Hemant Desai termed Raj’s demand “childish”. He said Raj was trying to attract the anti-BJP votes. “He is trying to show that he can go to any extreme stage to safeguard the state’s interests. This is nothing, but extremism.”
“The state has a debt of more than Rs 3 lakh crore. It needs a huge amount to run its own railway. Raj has no clarity on where he will raise it from,” Desai said.