Empty chairs at Aurangabad event force Raj Thackeray to wind up speech in 1.5 min
Raj Thackeray, who recently shifted to ‘Hindutva’ from the earlier ‘Marathi Manoos’ plank, was looking to gain ground in Aurangabad which has been the citadel of the MNS’s arch rival, the Shiv Sena
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray was on Saturday forced to wrap up his speech at a convention in Aurangabad — which was expected to witness more than 10,000 people — within one-and-a-half minutes, after he was greeted by empty chairs. Thackeray, who was supposed to undertake a four-day visit to the city, also cut short the trip and came back to Mumbai in three days.
Peeved at the large-scale factionalism in the party, the MNS chief reportedly called some party workers “traitors” and said they would be thrown out of the party.
Thackeray, who recently shifted to ‘Hindutva’ from the earlier ‘Marathi Manoos’ plank, was looking to gain ground in Aurangabad which has been the citadel of the MNS’s arch rival, the Shiv Sena. He is said to be indirectly being supported by the BJP, which wants to displace the Sena from power in the Aurangabad corporation.
Meanwhile, MNS leaders claimed that the Maharashtra English Teachers Association’s convention was just a last-minute courtesy call by Thackeray, and was not related to the party. However, some local MNS workers claimed his address was part of the programme.
On Saturday, when Thackeray went to inaugurate and address the teacher’s convention at Shrihari Pavilion, he was greeted to a crowd of barely 100-200 people, in place of more than 10,000 teachers and school staff members who were expected to turn up. Thackeray then took the mike, thanked the teachers for calling him and within one-and-a-half minutes, wound up his speech and left the venue.
MNS leader Abhijeet Panse said the programme was not on Thackeray’s schedule. “Some of the teachers called him to attend the programme and he went there. It was not on the agenda at all,” he said, blaming “vested interests” for spreading misinformation about the whole tour. “It was a successful tour. In fact, Rajsaheb will once again visit the city after 15 days owing to the forthcoming municipal elections,” he said.
However, some local MNS workers said loyal functionaries of the party were upset as new entrants were being given prominence. Prominent Sena leader Suhas Dashrathe, who was considered a close aide of former Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire, and turncoats Harshvardhan Jadhav and Prakash Mahajan who have returned to the party fold once again, are among these new entrants.