Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut advises MNS chief to understand BJP’s ‘manipulation’
Mumbai: After creating much publicity and bravado, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Friday announced that he was putting temporarily on hold his June 5 visit to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
Thackeray, who took to Twitter to announce his decision, further said that he would speak in detail on the reasons for his postponement at his rally slated at Pune’s Ganesh Kala Krida Kendra on May 22. According to sources, health reasons may have played a part in Thackeray putting his tour on hold.
The MNS’ chief’s proposed visit to Ayodhya has been vociferously opposed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha MP Brij Bhushan Singh, who had demanded an apology from Thackeray for past mistreatment of north Indians and the regional chauvinism of the MNS. However, the MNS chief Raj Thackeray had refused to respond to Singh.
Thackeray’s partymen had assaulted a number of north Indian aspirants across the State during the railway recruitment exams in 2008, demanding that local Maharashtrians be given first preference to jobs instead.
Following the temporary postponement of Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit, Singh responded by calling the MNS chief “an unfortunate person” who would have done well to “seek forgiveness from UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi” for his actions against north Indians.
Brij Bhushan Singh remarked, “Bad fortune is dogging his (Raj Thackeray’s) heels… had he sought forgiveness from Yogi Adityanath or PM Modi, this (postponement) would not have happened. But, by not apologizing, the old wounds have been reopened. Now, he will not be allowed into any province in north India and there will be plenty of people besides me to oppose him.”
Thackeray’s much publicised Ayodhya visit comes at a time of fierce saber-rattling over Maharashtra’s ‘Hindutva’ space between the ruling Shiv Sena on one hand, and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the MNS and the others.
After the 2019 Assembly elections in Maharashtra, the Sena, allied with the ideologically opposed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. Since then, the BJP has been targeting the Sena for forsaking (late Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray’s militant Hindutva ideals. The Sena in turn has accused the MNS of acting like the ‘B-team’ of the BJP. In a counter, the MNS has upped the ‘Hindutva’ ante by demanding the Uddhav Thackeray-led ruling MVA government remove loudspeakers from mosques.
Meanwhile, commenting on Raj Thackeray postponing his Ayodhya visit, Sena MP Sanjay Raut hit out at the BJP remarking that it was using certain political leaders
(MNS chief) for their own political gains. Raut remarked, “These leaders (Raj Thackeray) ought to wise up to the fact that they are being used by BJP for its selfish ends.”
In a sarcastic jibe, the Sena chief spokesperson remarked that if anyone required any help or was facing difficulties in reaching Ayodhya, the Sena would gladly extend all help to that leader, given the fact that the Sena has considerable presence and respect in Ayodhya. Raut confirmed that Shiv Sena Minister Aaditya Thackeray accompanied by hundreds of Shiv Sainiks would be visiting Ayodhya on June 15 as planned.
On the other hand, BJP Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said there was no particular reason to believe that Thackeray had put his visit on hold owing to Brij Bhushan Singh’s protest against him. “That was his (Singh’s) personal opinion. No one can stop Raj Thackeray from visiting Ayodhya,” clarified Darekar.