MNS Chief Raj Thackeray
MNS Chief Raj Thackeray

Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray said on Tuesday that he will honour the summons by Enforcement Directorate (ED) and appealed to his supporters to remain calm.

In his first response to the issue, Thackeray, in a direct, signed statement addressed to all MNS workers, said that since the party's inception in March 2006, innumerable cases have been registered against him and the activists.

"Each time, we all have honoured the notices sent by the investigating agencies and the court of law. This time, too, we all must honour the summons sent by the ED," he said. Thackeray's plea came amidst plans of a show of strength by thousands of his supporters and MNS workers from all over the state in Mumbai on Thursday.

Stressing how the past years have made the party leaders and activists accustomed to cases and notices coming their way, he said: "Keeping this in mind, I earnestly request that peace and harmony is maintained on August 22. No harm or damage should come upon any public property and the common man should not suffer in any way. Kindly ensure that this is followed diligently. Do maintain utmost calm and peace, even if provoked."

Earlier, senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar had issued a similar appeal after Thackeray held an emergency meeting of party leaders to discuss the matters as tempers were rising among its members.

He urged all workers to keep calm and not allow mischief-mongers to spoil the party's image and urged MNS activists to come to the ED office in an orderly and peaceful manner.

"Raj Thackeray has become very popular among the masses all over India after he raised issues like Electronic Voting Machines. There is a huge concern among the people after he has been served the ED notice to appear on August 22," Nandgaonkar said.

"It is possible that some miscreants from the ruling party deliberately try to create disturbance and defame the MNS. Our activists must remain vigilant about this," he added.

He said if common people want to go to the ED to express solidarity with Thackeray, the MNS workers should not prevent them from doing so. There has been a flutter in political circles and the MNS after the ED on Sunday slapped notices on Thackeray, his former partner Unmesh Joshi -- son of ruling ally Shiv Sena leader and ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi -- and their third business associate.

While Joshi was grilled by the ED for over eight hours on Monday, followed by a second round on Tuesday, Thackeray has been asked to report to the ED office on Thursday, in a money laundering case pertaining to the beleagured IL&FS.

The entire Maharashtra Opposition has strongly criticised the ED move terming it as a "vendetta" and "witch-hunt" after Thackeray's strong attacks on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena. Contrary to earlier speculation, the MNS will not organise any shutdown or agitations to oppose the ED move.

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