Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on 10 March threatened that his party workers would set fire to the autorickshaws driven by non-Marathis. Thackeray's issued the threat after he said that 70 per cent of new autorickshaw permits in the state were given to non-Marathis.
Addressing a gathering of party supporters on the occasion of MNS's 10th foundation day, Thackeray said that only Maharashtra residents - or "sons of the soil" - should be granted permits. He said:
"If any such auto with a new permit is seen plying on the road, those sitting inside will be asked to come out and the auto will be set on fire...Since Shiv Sena holds the state Transport portfolio, I want to ask how much is it getting in the deal."
"The government has done away with norms like asking for a domicile certificate and a letter from the CID before handing out auto permits to those seeking it, so that they can anyhow grant 70,000 permits in the coming days."
"The cost of each auto is Rs 1.7 lakh and Rahul Bajaj's company (Bajaj Auto) has the lot of 70,000 autos ready. It means that this is a business of Rs 1,190 crore," he said.
"Only faces have changed in the new government, but the corruption and style of working has remained unchanged."
In a bid to boost the morale of his party workers, Thackeray said that they should not be deterred by obstacles and should remember the purpose for which their party was formed. "Every big person has encountered failure. So there is nothing new if we, too, have failed in the past. But, I assure you that the party will not stop now," he said.
Congress leader PL Punia dubbed Thackeray's remarks as 'irresponsible' and criticised him for speaking ill against his fellow Indians. He told ANI:
"MNS chief Raj Thackeray keeps giving such statements. Now he has said that if non Marathis register an autorickshaw, then the rickshaw should be burnt. This is an irresponsible statement."
"On one hand he talks of nationalism and on the other he speaks against his fellow Indians. There is a competition to portray themselves as a big Maratha leader, it is all political, it should be condemned."