Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil has stepped in to try and stop the Marathi Manoos versus North Indians war of words, saying that the Mumbai Police will find out if recent statements by leaders like Sanjay Nirupam, Raj Thackeray and Abu Azmi were inflammatory.
"The report is expected in two days, after which the nature of action to be taken will be decided, if anything objectionable is found," Mr Patil said.
Sanjay Nirupam, incidentally, is from the Congress which is an ally in the Maharashtra government with Mr Patil's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The past few days have seen statements that have revived the bitter North Indians versus Marathi Manoos fight a few months before the Mumbai municipal elections expected to be held in February 2012.
While Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray wrote in party mouthpiece Saamna
that Mumbai would always belong to Marathis and not outsiders, his nephew and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray went a step further and warned of riots if parties like the Congress and Samajwadi Party did not stop making "provocative statements."
Demanding the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the Home Minister to intervene before it was too late, Raj Thackeray said that they should not be blamed if the Marathis resorted to violence.
Leaders like Abu Azmi from the Samajwadi Party have been quoted as saying that Mumbai belongs to everybody who lives and works there and not to any particular group or community. The comments came during the recently-concluded Chhath Puja, which is a major religious event for people from Bihar and neighbouring north Indian regions.
Sanjay Nirupam was one of the prominent faces at the Chhath Puja celebrations in Mumbai and has come under fire from the Shiv Sena and the MNS for what is being viewed as an attempt to reinforce the North Indian influence on the city. He recently said that North Indians can bring Mumbai to a standstill if they want because they run essential services in the city.
Attempts by parties like the Congress and the Samajwadi Party to play to the North Indian electorate clearly seem to be with an eye on the Mumbai municipal polls expected to be held a few months later. The Shiv Sena has dominated the municipal scene in Mumbai along with its ally Bharatiya Janata Party for many years now.