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Raj Thackeray flexes muscle on toll issue, dares Maharashtra government to arrest him

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Pune –  Raj Thackeray, chief of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena or MNS, has escalated his confrontation with the state government, announcing a statewide “rasta roko” agitation on February 12 to press for the abolition of toll tax. He has dared the government to arrest him.

MNS workers have in the last few weeks attacked and vandalised toll booths across the state, including major cities like Mumbai and Pune, on the orders of Mr Thackeray, who now faces multiple cases for instigating them. Hundreds of MNS workers were arrested last week.

Undeterred, Mr Thackeray said on Sunday that he was determined to continue his stir until the government has made collection of road tax “transparent”.

“My meeting with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to resolve the (toll) issue has proved futile. I am left with no option but to continue my agitation against the collection of toll and to side with the anger of the people against the unjustified road tax,” Mr Thackeray said, addressing a rally at the SP College ground in Pune.

He also criticised the state Home department for “laxity” in ensuring law and order in Maharashtra.

In a counter to the Shiv Sena criticising his toll-tax agitation, the MNS chief said, “I wonder whether that party is part of the ruling coalition or belongs to the opposition”.

The Shiv Sena is headed by Mr Thackeray’s cousin Uddhav Thackeray, who, in partnership with the BJP, is the main opposition to the ruling Congress-NCP government in the state. Mr Thackeray is expected to be a strong third angle in Assembly elections due in Maharashtra later this year.

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