Mumbai, May 2 (IANS): In a political climbdown of sorts, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray said on Monday that Muslims would not be disturbed from celebrating Eid on Tuesday.
"Tomorrow is Eid, and Muslims must celebrate this festival with joy. As per the pre-decided programmes for Akshaya Tritiya, do not perform ‘aartis' tomorrow," Raj said in an open appeal to all his partymen.
He also made it clear that the MNS shall not create tensions while celebrating the festival, since the issue of loudspeakers is not a religious one but a social cause, as he mentioned at his huge rally in Aurangabad on Sunday night.
On the loudspeaker row, Raj Thackeray said he would announce his plan of action on Tuesday via social media, even as Aurangabad Police scanned his speech to detect any legal violations.
The development came a day after he breathed fire over the use of loudspeakers at mosques during a rally in Aurangabad, earning the ire of most political parties in the state, especially the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance.
At the rally, he reiterated his ultimatum (May 4) of yanking off loudspeakers from all religious places, particularly mosques, by Wednesday failing which his party workers would blare out 'Hanuman Chalisa' at double decibel levels in the state.
The MNS chief came in for massive criticism from the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Sambhaji Brigade (S), Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VA) and other top leaders for his utterances laced with hidden threats.
Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said the loudspeaker issue is being raised by the BJP and its ‘sister concerns' to divert the country's attention from unemployment, high inflation, Chinese intrusion into Indian territory and other burning issues.
"There's a Ravan possessing the Opposition today... Ravan's end came due to arrogance. The Opposition should first destroy the Ravan inside them and then talk of Maharashtra," Raut said.
NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said if Raj Thackeray had served deadlines to end ‘unemployment, inflation, illiteracy' or other burning problems plaguing the country, it would have been welcomed wholeheartedly.
"However, he is dancing like a puppet to BJP's tunes and fomenting troubles for the people. Maintaining harmony is our responsibility and hence persons like Raj Thackeray, who are attempting to create disturbances for their selfish political motives, must be totally ignored," said Tapase.
Congress state President Nana Patole warned that Raj Thackeray's attempts to spoil social harmony in Maharashtra would jeopardise investments and job creations, and called upon the MVA government to take "stern action" for attempts to create hurdles in celebrating Eid, which is violative of the Constitution.
"The BJP is using Raj Thackeray as a shield to hide the Centre's failures on all fronts. After losing power in the state, the local BJP leaders have lost their sleep. Unfortunately, in his speech, Raj Thackeray harped on loudspeakers but didn't utter a single word on the massive problems confronting the nation," Patole said.
State SP President Abu Asim Azmi, SSS President Raju Shetti, SB President Pravin Gaikwad, VBA leaders, ministers Balasaheb Thorat, Dilip Walse-Patil, Jitendra Awhad, Chhagan Bhujbal, ex-Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar and Rupali Patil, roundly attacked Raj Thackeray for 'misleading' the people of the state, attempting to drive a communal wedge among the masses, and demanded strong deterrent steps against him.
On the other hand, state BJP leaders like Pravin Darekar, Ashish Shelar, Chandrakant Patil and others supported Raj Thackeray indirectly by attacking all those criticising the MNS chief.