Marathi people have the first right over Mumbai as it is a part of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said in an article in party mouthpiece Saamana on Sunday.
Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, is the executive editor of Saamana. He is currently in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody in an alleged money laundering case.
The Shiv Sena leader wrote the article on Sunday in the context of governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s remarks on July 29 that Mumbai would cease to be the country’s financial capital if Gujaratis and Rajasthanis left the city. Raut wrote that Gujaratis and Marwaris in Mumbai also did not approve of Koshiyari’s statement.
“Those who became enraged when [Congress MP] Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referred to the president as ‘Rashtrapatni’, did not even issue a simple condemnation of the insult to Maharashtra and Shivaji,” the Shiv Sena leader said. “This, too, is an insult to Maharashtra.”
After Koshiyari’s remarks led to widespread criticism from the Opposition, both Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis said last month that they did not agree with his statement. The governor also said that his comments were misconstrued and that he had “no intention of belittling the hard work of Marathi-speaking people”.
Raut wrote on Sunday that despite Koshiyari’s apology, conspiracies against Mumbai would continue. “These conspiracies must stop for good,” he said.
The Shiv Sena leader said that former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Morarji Desai had also made statements about Mumbai “using incorrect historical references”, after which they had to apologise. Desai was a former chief minister of the erstwhile Bombay State, which comprised parts of present-day Maharashtra and Gujarat.
“History bears witness that Marathi people rise in rage if anyone tries to play with Maharashtra’s self-respect,” Raut said.
The Shiv Sena leader said that although Gujaratis have been in Mumbai for a long time, Marathi-speaking people would always be pre-eminent in the city. “The share of Marathi-speaking citizens in Mumbai has reduced,” he wrote in the article. “Marathi people may not hold the financial reins of Mumbai, but history tells us that they built the city.”
Raut recalled that Marathi rulers played an important role in the development of cities outside of present-day Maharashtra such as Vadodara, Gwalior and Indore. “Why should one feel bad about Mumbai’s economy being in the hands of people from Gujarat and Rajasthan?” he asked.
The Shiv Sena MP added that it has now “become a crime” for Marathi people to earn money. “The Enforcement Directorate has placed locks on sugar factories, textile mills and other industries run by Marathi people,” he wrote. “...Today, only one region and community is allowed to earn money by whatever means possible.”
Raut said that the Gujarati community has integrated itself into Mumbai’s culture “like sugar dissolved in milk”. He added that although Gujaratis may be financially dominant, that did not reduce the importance of the workers and labourers in the city.