Mumbai/New Delhi, April 12:
Voting rights of Muslims should be revoked to stop vote bank politics, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has said in an article in party’s mouthpiece ‘Saamna’, and accused AIMIM leaders Asaduddin and Akbaruddin Owaisi of polarising the community.
His view drew sharp reactions from other parties. Slamming the Shiv Sena, part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA, the Congress said the ruling alliance had members who are out to create conflict and the Aam Aadmi Party demanded arrest of Raut, suspension of ‘Saamna’ and de-recognition of Shiv Sena.
BJP leaders said they did not agree with Raut.
In the article published in the latest issue, Raut, a Rajya Sabha member said: “As long as Muslim votes are for sale, the community will remain backward and its leaders will become rich.”
In the article written in Marathi, he said it was because of this Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray had said “voting rights for Muslims should be taken away”.
“Owaisi bhai is doing politics of Muslim votes and we don’t know if it will benefit him or the community, but it will harm the country,” Raut said, in a reference to the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, in a rally in Mumbai earlier this week, had dared Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to come to Hyderabad.
Ruat sought to defend his comments later.
“This vote bank politics has kept Muslims away from the mainstream. Go and see in what condition Muslims live… what did their leaders do for the community in 50 years. They made Pakistan… (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah did vote bank politics, Jama Masjid Imam tried to polarise votes, Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad did the same… and now we have this new leader (Owaisi),” he said.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters that Saamna has no place in a democratic country like India.
“The ‘Saamna’ thinks it lives in some Talibanised land and not in a democratic country like India. The ‘Saamna’ has no place in culture like ours,” he said, while his party colleague Anand Sharma asked why communal comments keep pouring in despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurances.
“It is very clear you have elements who are out to create conflict and division in the society and inflame passion. Despite the prime minister’s repeated assurances in parliament, senior leaders and members of Sangh Parivar keep making such statements,” Sharma told reporters in the national capital.
The AAP demanded Raut’s “immediate arrest” and a criminal case against him and his party. “We also demand that Samna’s publication should be suspended and the publishers should be prosecuted,” a party statement said.
It also sought the poll panel de-recognize the Shiv Sena.
Stressing all citizens had equal rights, BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said Raut’s suggestion was “out of question”. Such remarks should not be made, he said.
Shaina NC, a BJP leader in Maharashtra, said the party did not agree with Raut’s views.