Jalna: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday dared Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar to intimidate his party without the help of the state apparatus, saying stones can come from "our side" too in an escalating war of words between the two leaders from Maharashtra. Raj also asked Union Agriculture Minister and NCP leader Sharad Pawar if the matches of Indian Premier League (IPL) would be cancelled in Maharashtra this time around on account of the terrible drought the state is facing.
Addressing a rally in Jalna as a part of his organisation-building drive across the state, Raj said the MNS was ready to take on the NCP if the latter were to use the government power to intimidate. "Ajit Pawar (Deputy Chief Minister) says they will give befitting reply (to MNS). I am ready for it. Stones can come from our side too," said Raj, against the backdrop of recent clashes between NCP and MNS workers at various places.
He dared Ajit Pawar to confront MNS without the aid of Home Department and police. Raj alleged that cable TV networks at several places were shut down ahead of his rally today. Referring to Ajit Pawar's earlier statement that Raj Thackeray was "going berserk", he said, "This shows who is going berserk, I or they". He also said that though huge amounts of funds go to Western Maharashtra, a bastion of Congress and NCP, even that part of the state was in the grip of drought.
"All the money goes to western Maharashtra. Marathwada was ignored. But in Western Maharashtra also people are leaving homes. They are also affected by drought," he said. He asked Ajit Pawar, who has held Irrigation portfolio in recent years, to explain "where Rs 70,000 crore spent on irrigation projects went". Referring to Sharad Pawar's castigating of a recent lavish wedding hosted by NCP minister Bhaskar Jadhav, Raj asked: "I want to ask Pawar, would the IPL matches be cancelled this summer? If not, then stop this hypocrisy."
He squarely blamed the ruling coalition, especially NCP, for the drought situation in the state. Ajit Pawar had earlier said that NCP would give befitting reply to MNS in the state. Referring to it, Raj said: "Why didn't Ajit Pawar speak of 'a befitting reply' when lady constables were assaulted by the miscreants during a rally in Mumbai (organised by local organisations to protest atrocities against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar)?".