MAIL TODAY COMMENT: Raj is less a politician and more a rabble rouser

Tuesday saw Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray give yet another demonstration of the brand of politics he has pursued to build his political career.

Addressing a gathering at the Azad Maidan, the very place where a rally organised in protest against atrocities on Muslims in Assam had turned violent on August 11, he sought the resignation of the Maharashtra home minister and the Mumbai police commissioner for failing to control the rioters.

Mr Thackeray had earlier defied orders by leading his supporters in a protest march from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan.

Raj Thackeray, centre, surrounded by MNS party supporters

Demonstration: Raj Thackeray, centre, surrounded by MNS party supporters

That the administration had bungled in its handling of the August 11 rally which left two persons dead and many more injured is not in question.

But what is highly questionable is the MNS chief's attempt to make capital of the event, in full knowledge of the fraught situation that exists in the country, following the communal strife in Assam.

Nothing else would explain Mr Thackeray's plan to march through the Muslim-dominated areas of the city.

While he may have been dissuaded from doing so, he nevertheless got his divisive message across when he blamed illegal migrants for the rioting on August 11.

But no discussion on Mr Thackeray's potential for trouble can ignore his kid-glove treatment by the Maharashtra government.

For instance, it needs to be asked how MNS supporters were allowed to hold a protest march from Chowpatty to Azad Maidan when they only had permission for a meeting at the latter venue.

We thought the Mumbai police would be doubly cautious after the fiasco earlier in the month, but it seems the Congress-NCP government in the state is yet to give up its strategy of using Mr Thackeray as a counterpoise to the Shiv Sena.

A disturbing spectacle

It is sad that P.J. Kurien of the Congress party began his term as Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on a controversial note.

Controversial: P J Kurien began his term as Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on a controversial note

Controversial: P J Kurien began his term as Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on a controversial note

Shortly after being elected to the august office, he was caught on a microphone meekly assenting to a suggestion by the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Rajiv Shukla that the House be adjourned for the day. Several improprieties were committed here.

First, Mr Shukla had no right to go up to the Deputy Chairman's seat. Second, he had no business to prompt Mr Kurien to adjourn the House. Third, Mr Kurien should not have so blatantly accepted Mr Shukla's suggestion.

A Deputy Chairman retains his or her party affiliation in the Rajya Sabha, but the moment they occupy the chair of the house, they are supposed to conduct the proceedings in a bipartisan manner.

Perhaps the disruption of the proceedings did require the house to be adjourned, but it should not have been done at the behest of the Treasury benches.

It is this nature of the office that persuaded the Opposition to allow Mr Kurien, a nine-time member of parliament, to be elected to the office unanimously-his name was proposed by the Prime Minister and seconded by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and six others.

Air India is going down

While the cash-strapped government has been allocating precious funds to extend a lifeline to Air India, the company's management seems hell bent on running the airline into the ground.

It is indeed a reflection of the apathy of the Air India management that as many as 168 of the 184 flights operated in the April-June quarter this year could not even cover the cost of operations.

Fresh funds have been pumped into the airline with the condition that the management would come up with a turnaround plan to wheel the Maharaja out of the sick bay.

Downward spiral: Air India is suffering bigger losses every day

Downward spiral: Air India is suffering bigger losses every day

But instead, the management appears to be proceeding along a suicidal path that will sound the death knell for the airline.

The accumulated losses of Air India have now crossed the Rs 28,000 crore mark and are growing by the day.

The Civil Aviation Ministry, under the administrative control of which the Air India management functions, appears to be equally indifferent to the plight of the airline.

The mandarins at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan have not even been able to resolve the pilots' strike, which has grounded a major chunk of its fleet.