Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik on Sunday said his Nationalist Congress Party will welcome the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Centre’s decision to create one country after merging India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, reported ANI.

The state minister was reacting to BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis’ comment on Saturday that Karachi would one day be a part of the “Akhand Bharat”. “We believe in ‘Akhand Bharat [undivided India]’,” Fadnavis had said, according to The Indian Express. “We believe one day Karachi will become a part of India.”

This is not the first time Hindutva organisations have backed the idea of “Akhand Bharat”. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena and BJP are among the parties that have called for the creation of such a country. In 2015, BJP and RSS leader Ram Madhav had stoked controversy by bringing up the matter again when Prime Minister Modi had made a surprise visit to Lahore to see his then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Nawab Malik on Sunday said that the NCP will support the BJP’s efforts to merge the three countries together. “We [NCP] have been saying that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh should be merged,” the Maharashtra minister said. “If the Berlin wall can be demolished then why not India, Pakistan and Bangladesh come together? If BJP wishes to merge these three countries and make a single country, we will welcome it definitely.”

Fadnavis’s comment followed after a controversy emerged last week as Shiv Sena leader Nitin Nandgaonkar posted a video of him telling the owner of Mumbai snack shop Karachi Sweets to change the name of his store to “something in Marathi”. “Your ancestors are from Pakistan,” Nandgaonkar was heard saying in the video. “You came from the country during the Partition, and you are welcome. I hate the name Karachi. The city in Pakistan is a hub of terrorists.”

Following the controversy, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had distanced the party from Nandgaonkar’s demand. Several social media users had criticised the incident.

Meanwhile, Malik said that the NCP will contest the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections along with Shiv Sena and Congress, which jointly form the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. “It is still 15 months left for the BMC election,” he added. “Every party has the right to work for their party, and every party is doing so. We want that those who are running the government, all three parties, should contest polls together.”

The Cabinet minister also ruled out the possibility of a coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state. “Our Aarogya secretariat has sent an advisory to every district that we have to be prepared in view of the second wave of Covid-19,” he added.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday appealed to people in the state not to be lax in the measures against Covid-19, and to follow safety protocols to avoid another lockdown.

The state continues to be the most-affected due to the pandemic, but it has managed to reduce its caseload. It is the only state in the top five most-hit list to have been able to bring down its active cases. There are 80,878 active cases, 16,47,004 recoveries, and the toll stood at 46,573, according to the Union health ministry.

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