No flowers, donate cash to party, Raj Thackeray tells supporters on birthday

June 14th, 2009 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj Thackeray Mumbai, June 14 (IANS) Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray Sunday refused to accept gifts or flowers from the thousands of his partymen who turned up to greet him on his 41st birthday Sunday. Instead, he appealed for cash to be donated to the party coffers.
The appeal was “official” and the monies collected would be “fully accounted” for, according to MNS vice-president Vageesh Saraswat.

“The party has issued a written appeal to his followers to refrain from buying expensive gifts and flowers, garlands or bouquets. That money could be donated in cash to the party and it would be utilized for fighting the forthcoming Maharashtra assembly elections,” Saraswat told IANS.

Accordingly, Raj greeted his followers with a smile and folded hands, accepted their greetings and blessings outside his Dadar residence Sunday morning.

The supporters then took out small or large envelopes filled with cash and deposited them in a huge locked box kept nearby.

Asked if the party had set a certain minimum collection, Saraswat replied in the negative. “This is purely voluntary. We need money for the next elections. So instead of spending money on gifts or flowers, it could be better utilized in the elections,” he said.

However, flowers and sweets were not lacking at the venue. Raj’s residence was decorated with flowers, both inside and outside, and Raj cut a huge rectangular cake. All those who turned up to greet him were offered sweets and cake with a warm smile from their youthful leader.

The MNS made its presence felt in the May 2009 Lok Sabha elections when it contested 12 Lok Sabha seats. Although it did not win a single seat, its presence damaged the prospects of its arch rival, Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party on several seats.

Now, MNS plans to contest all the 288 assembly seats in the state elections due by October.

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