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'Don't use Ram Mandir as poll issue': Raj Thackeray accuses BJP of trying to cover up failures on several fronts

Pune: Batting for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray on Wednesday said the issue should not be used for the election campaign.

File image of Raj Thackeray. Reuters

File image of Raj Thackeray. Reuters

Thackeray accused the BJP of raking up the temple issue to cover up its "failure" on various fronts. Addressing reporters in Pune, the MNS chief also criticised the Central and Maharashtra governments on a string of issues including the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), ongoing agitation by dairy farmers, proposed memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji in Arabian sea and the bullet train project.

"Ram Mandir should be built but the issue should not be used for the election campaign. The government has done nothing which it can showcase as development work. The issue of Ram Mandir is being raised to cover up the failure of the government," he charged. He said the BJP wanted riots to take place in the country on the temple issue.

"They (BJP) could have taken up the issue of Ram Mandir as they enjoy majority but they took up issues like Notebandi (demonetisation), Yoga etc., and now after four years, they are talking about (construction of) the (Ram) temple," said Thackeray, a vocal critic of the BJP and prime minister Narendra Modi.

He slammed the BJP-led Maharashtra government for arresting MNS workers who dug up a pavement outside the Mantralaya in Mumbai on  in protest against pothole-ridden roads and resultant accidents in the state capital and extended suburbs. Thackeray alleged that the police used "third degree treatment" against the MNS workers and beat them up with belts.

"I would like to ask a question to the state government: Would you accept the similar treatment (to party workers) if you have to sit in the opposition tomorrow?" he
asked. Thackeray demanded that local students be given priority in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) which is held for students who wish to study graduate medical course and dental course in government or private medical colleges.

He said the state government was trying to give a preferential treatment to the students from outside Maharashtra at the expense of the local students. "If this is the situation, where would students from Maharashtra go to secure admissions?" "Even if the students from other states get admissions for the medical courses in Maharashtra, the MNS would keep a close watch on them. If the government thinks it is a threat then they should take it as a threat," Thackeray said.

On the ongoing stir by dairy farmers for better procurement price for milk, Thackeray alleged the government wanted to promote firms like 'Amul' (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd) in Maharashtra instead of coming to the aid of the farmers in the state. "This is happening because those in the state government are busy taking and implementing the orders coming from the Central government," he said.

Dairy farmers are staging protests in several parts of the state since Monday, demanding a higher purchase price and a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre for milk. As part of the stir, protesters have been stopping tankers filled with milk and emptying them on roads. Thackeray said the people are suffering because the state government failed to act in advance to prevent the agitation by milk producers. The MNS chief is embarking on a tour of Marathwada region beginning today.


Updated Date: Jul 18, 2018 18:28 PM

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