Patna, April 12: Nitish Kumar has deployed his party MLC and shipping tycoon Devesh Thakur apparently to “soften” the Mumbai turf “hardened” with the Bihar chief minister and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray exchanging verbal duels on the issue of Bihari migrants in the country’s financial capital.
The chief minister is scheduled to organise Bihar’s centenary celebrations in Mumbai on Sunday in the backdrop of the MNS holding out a threat “not to tolerate anyone presenting Marathi culture and language in bad light”.
In an obvious bid to sort out the differences between Nitish and MNS, Thakur, who has studied in Mumbai and has been appointed the convener of the Bihar event, said, “It is purely a social cultural event that the chief minister (Nitish) will celebrate with the Bihari people living in Mumbai. It has not been directed against Maharashtra, its culture or its politics.”
Thakur, who is believed to enjoy good rapport with Shiv Sena and several Maharashtra-based parties and leaders, pointed out over the phone, “The Bihar chief minister is, in fact, doing what the Maharashtra leaders are wishing him to do. He has been fast creating employment opportunities to stop Bihar labourers from migrating to other states. This is what the MNS precisely wants the Bihar government to do.”
Referring to the figures released by some central agencies, the Mumbai-based shipping tycoon claimed that there was a 26 per cent drop in migration of labourers from Bihar. “Now, Punjab is luring Bihari workers by offering extra incentives like mobile phones and free talk-times.”
Nitish has all along been asserting that the Centre must take “appropriate action” against MNS leaders targeting the Bihari labourers there. “The people from Bihar are as much within their rights to work and settle in Mumbai as the Maharashtrians are. The MNS’s opposition to Bihari workers is unconstitutional and unacceptable,” Nitish said recently, adding, “I do not need a visa to visit Mumbai. I will say whatever I have to say in Mumbai.”
However, in an apparent bid to keep the Thackerays in good humour ahead of the event, Thakur said, “We have high regards for the Thackeray family’s commitment to nationalism.”
He clarified that Nitish would honour Udit Narayan, Manoj Tiwari and other celebrities from Bihar who have contributed and enriched the culture of Mumbai and Maharastra.
Thakur said Nitish would keep the centenary celebration “totally free” from the political overtones.