Thane: Activists belonging to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have ransacked toll plazas in eight cities of the state since Sunday evening, including the toll plaza on the Pune-Mumbai expressway.

Attacks began after Thackeray asked party workers not to pay toll while speaking at a party function in Navi Mumbai over the weekend. The issue of toll collection has become a political hot potato in the state. On 12 January, residents of Kolhapur burned down the toll plazas in city due to a proposal to compensate IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd for delayed toll collections. Subsequently, the proposal was withdrawn due to the opposition.

Since then, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine has said that they will make the state toll free if voted to power. Congress leaders like north Mumbai MP Sanjay Nirupam and union minister of state for coal Pratik Patil have also demanded that toll tariffs be scrapped. In fact, Patil who belongs to Sangli said he is ready to give up his ministerial portfolio if toll in his home town of Sangli are not waived.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan before leaving for Davos, last Tuesday said, “I have asked public works minister to conduct a detail review of toll policy and come up with recommendations."

Speaking with reporters on Monday, state Congress president Manikrao Thakare demanded that action be taken against MNS leaders, “It is not enough only to arrest those involved in the acts of violence but also perpetrators of such acts (Raj)," he said.

“The decision to levy toll for using various roads and bridges was taken by the Shiv Sena-BJP government for projects taken up on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis," Thakare added.

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