For Raj Srikant Thackeray, the present couldn’t be more perfect. In fact, it’s like a script. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief has pulled taken the stage from where his mentor Shiv Sena Chief had left it, and strategically positioned himself as sole occupant of the Opposition space in Maharashtra. When Raj Thackeray had floated the MNS in March 2006, the present would have been a dream. While the Shiv Sena was busy wooing North Indians into its fold, Raj had found his opportunity, and wasted no time in making the most of it. He started the sons-of-the-soil fire last December and since he has consistently been one up on the Sena. It moved on to demanding more jobs for locals in the government as well as the private sector. There was nothing wrong or illegal in Raj’s demand as the state’s own policy makes it mandatory for private industries to recruit at least 80% locals. Raj merely stated it openly, and in true Sena style. Then came the issue of Marathi nameplates on shops. The state’s own act, passed in 1962, says shops will have to prominently display their names in the local language. And again, every political party was forced to toe Raj’s line. This was difficult for the Sena to digest. The last straw, however, came in the form of Jet Airway’s retrenchment issue last week. Though the biggest private airline in the country had a Sena union, Uddhav Thackeray and Co was caught napping. Raj took up battle on behalf of the sacked employees. About 24 hours later, the Jet management was seen succumbing for whatever reasons and reinstated all 1,900 sacked employees, giving Raj a head-and-shoulder lead over everyone. And then came the issue of railways exams, which has landed Raj in jail. With the state forced to arrest him, Raj has ensured that he stays in the spotlight. It appears he’s the sole occupant of the political space meant for the Opposition in Maharashtra. How far he holds it will be known in the coming elections. Bureau report – NMTV News.

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