Now, Raj Thackeray in ‘bhaiyya’ birthday cake controversy

November 14th, 2008 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj ThackerayMumbai, Nov 14 (IANS) Raj Thackeray is now in the midst of a birthday cake controversy that has given a new twist to the Marathi-speaking versus North Indians issue in the state.Raj allegedly cut a cake bearing the word ‘Bhaiyya’ in Hindi on his birthday last June 14 in Mumbai, a video clip of which was leaked out Friday.

‘Bhaiyya” meaning ‘elder brother,’ is the term by which people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are generally referred to in the city.

The video clip, shot by an unknown person from a mobile phone has both mystified and embarrassed the party as it was repeatedly flashed across television channels this afternoon.

Top office-bearers of his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) fumbled for a convincing explanation at the sudden development, which has caught the party by surprise.

“We have a lot of north Indian activists in the MNS and it must have been brought by one such activist, but we cannot recollect who,” party vice-president Vageesh Saraswat told IANS this afternoon.

He claimed that the word ‘Bhaiyya’ on the cake probably meant that Raj Thackeray was like the elder brother of the person who presented it, and “it should not be construed that we are against north Indians.”

“Moreover, something is always inscribed on any cake as per the occasion. This time, it was ‘Bhaiyya’ since a north Indian party worker brought the cake. It was not intended to spread hatred against anybody,” Saraswat emphasised.

He reiterated that the party’s agitation was concerning opportunities for Marathi-speaking people and not against north Indians settled in the state.

Raj cut the colourfully decorated birthday cake at a small party attended by family and friends in his Shivaji Park home. The video clip shows him making two diagonal slashes across the cake, instead of gently cutting it in the traditional fashion.

Saraswat claims that “the video may have been tampered to convey a certain impression” and questioned the motives behind leaking it exactly five months after the birthday party.

It may be recalled that last February and then in October, the MNS had launched violent agitations against north Indians living or working in Mumbai. The episode finally culminated in Raj’s arrest, with him spending a night in police lock-up and being subsequently released on bail.

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