Raj warns of riots if leaders continue to provoke

Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday said that if north Indian-origin leaders in Mumbai did not stop making inflammatory statements, there would "riots".

A war of words has begun after Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam recently said that north Indians could bring life in Mumbai to a halt, as they rendered many essential services. Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi too endorsed Nirupam.

"If such statements kept coming from these leaders, riots will take place," Raj said here today.

Appealing to the state government to rein in the north Indian leaders, he said that if the situation got out of hand, it would be government's responsibility.

Organisation of Chath puja on Mumbai beaches was a show of strength by the north Indian leaders, he claimed.

Taking a swipe at his estranged cousin, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, Raj said that it was Shiv Sena which made Nirupam big.

"Nirupam was made big by Uddhav Thackeray. He was once Uddhav's favourite," he said.

Like Raj himself, Nirupam too was once with Shiv Sena. "When I gave speeches, a gag order was passed against me. I was not allowed to make speeches. But North Indian leaders are backed by everyone, and criminal cases are slapped against me," Raj said.

"Why all this started, I have no clue. What was the need to make such statements (for Nirupam and others)?" Raj added.