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Raj steals Sena thunder

Mumbai, Oct. 16: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena today sought political brownie points by claiming the Jet Airways chairman had phoned Raj Thackeray and promised talks on the lay-off within two days.

Jet, which later took back all the workers it had laid off, did not confirm the call.

The Congress and the BJP, too, had earlier taken up the sacked probationers’ cause, a day after the MNS and the Shiv Sena did so, but Raj’s party stole a march on the rest.

First, it led 300-plus sacked employees into a dharna at Jet’s Marol office in the morning; then it ended the protest after the purported call from Naresh Goyal to Raj.

“We met Jet officials today while a lot of (cabin) crew and MNS workers were protesting outside. While we were talking, Jet chairman Naresh Goyal telephoned Raj Thackeray…. He requested us to end the protest and offered to meet Rajsaheb in a couple of days,” MNS general secretary Nitin Sardesai said.

“We had a one-point agenda that those laid off should be taken back. Now we’ll wait for the Thackeray-Goyal meeting before we take the next step.”

The past two day’s developments appear to have helped Raj go one up on the Shiv Sena of uncle Bal Thackeray, whose mantle of aggressive street politics he has now usurped.

Yesterday, the retrenched Jet staff had flocked to the MNS office although it’s Shiv Sena labour arm Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) that rules the aviation unions.

Raj’s party recently formed its trade union, the Maharashtra Navnirman Kamgar Sena, and is trying to eat into the Shiv Sena’s influence in the aviation, hotel and entertainment sectors.

The BKS had protested outside the Jet office yesterday and claimed to have got a written assurance that the sacked staff would be taken back during any future recruitment drive. The BKS did not protest today.

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