The Shiv Sena on Saturday said that “Muslim infiltrators” from Pakistan and Bangladesh must be evicted. The party, which rules Maharashtra in a coalition government, made the remark in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana, while taking a dig at Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray for an ideological shift towards Hindutva, PTI reported.
Thackeray is the cousin of Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. While unveiling a new saffron flag for the MNS on Thursday, Raj Thackeray had said that Pakistani and Bangladeshi “infiltrators” should be evicted from the country, and that he supported the Narendra Modi government on this.
“The Muslim infiltrators from Pakistan and Bangladesh should be driven out of India,” the Sena editorial said. “There should be no doubt about that. But it is amusing to see a party changing its flag for it.”
“Fourteen years ago, Raj Thackeray formed a party for the Marathi ideology but now it has changed its track to Hindutva,” the party said. “There’s little hope that they will be able to get anything in their hands even now [after inching closer to BJP].”
However, the editorial said that the Citizenship Amendment Act has several loopholes, and pointed out how Raj Thackeray had changed his stand on it. “Yesterday he said that the citizenship law should be supported and he will take out a morcha [procession] in its support,” said the party. “But one month back Shri Raj Thackeray had opposed the Act. He had said that [Home Minister] Amit Shah has brought the law to take away attention from burning issues of inflation and unemployment.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party is keen to prop up the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena as a counter to the Shiv Sena, according to The Indian Express. Several BJP leaders, including former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have held meetings with Raj Thackeray in the last few weeks. In the Assembly elections in October, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena managed to win just one seat. Raj Thackeray had been one of the most prominent critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the Lok Sabha elections, which the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena did not contest.
The Shiv Sena had long been an ally of the ruling BJP, but left the alliance due to a power tussle following Assembly elections in Maharashtra. The party then formed a government in the state with Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, both of which are ideologically opposite to its stance on Hindutva.
The Shiv Sena had stayed out of the Rajya Sabha when the House was voting on the Citizenship Amendment Bill in December. Party MP Sanjay Raut had said that the Shiv Sena “boycotted” the voting as “it is not right to either support or oppose the bill when answers are not given properly” by the government. The Upper House cleared the bill, with 125 votes in favour and 105 against. The Shiv Sena has three members in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Shiv Sena’s 18 members in the Lok Sabha had voted in favour of the bill, despite speaking against it during the debate.