NCP-MNS skirmish sparks tension in Mumbai

Minor skirmishes broke out between workers of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) after Raj Thackeray’s convoy was stoned in Ahmednagar on Tuesday night, sparking off tension in parts of Mumbai on Wednesday morning.

While local media played up the rumours of bandh, police took measures to snuff out all attempts by the MNS to enforce a bandh. City traffic and suburbs continued to remain normal and the MNS quietly withdrew its bandh threats in the metropolis and satellite towns like Bhiwandi, Ambarnath, Kalyan and Thane.

Even as rumours were doing rounds, NCP state president Madhukarrao Pichad called a press conference and said he has “appealed to his party workers not to get upset and maintain decency”.

Pichad said the Ahmednagar incident (stoning of Thackeray’s convoy) was not correct, but defended NCP workers. “While criticising other outfits, NCP workers never transgress or cross limits of decency,” he said. He also took a dig at Raj Thackeray by saying: “Our leaders never stoop low or use abusive or lewd language while criticising political leaders.”

On Tuesday night, Raj Thackeray, who is on a state-wide tour, made a caustic remark on NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar while addressing a rally in Bhingar, Ahmednagar, 250 km from Mumbai.

Pawar was recently given a clean-chit in the irrigation scam that had rocked the state last year.

Pichad said as soon as he heard about the stoning incident, party workers were strictly instructed not to resort to violence. “We always tackle opposition and adverse remarks on our ideologies politically. It is not our culture to grab headlines or publicity by attacking leaders in a wrong way,” he added. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik warned that “if anybody takes the law in their hands, then the police and government will deal with them appropriately.” He said NCP workers foiled attempts of the MNS to enforce bandh in several places.

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