In a snub to Union minister Sharad Pawar, Balasaheb Thackeray on Monday said the Shiv Sena would not allow Australian cricketers to play in the IPL, which starts next month, a threat which the NCP supremo had wanted the Sena chief to withdraw.
"We would not allow them to set foot on Indian soil," he said.
"Indians are being attacked in Australia. Therefore, I have said that we would not allow Australian cricketers to play in our country," Thackeray said addressing party workers via video link in suburban Bandra today.
Shiv Sena has voiced opposition to Australian cricketers playing in India in the wake of continued attacks on Indians in Australia and threatened not to allow them in the country.
Against this backdrop, Pawar, who also heads the Mumbai Cricket Association, along with BCCI chief Shashank Manohar called on Thackeray on February seven to allow Australian players to play in Indian Premier League (IPL) amid speculation that the Agriculture minister was cosying up to the Sena leader. The meeting had even left NCP ally and senior UPA partner Congress fuming.
Thackeray had said he would announce his decision after BCCI made a presentation on Australian cricketers. Pawar had also tried to convince Thackeray that only one or two Aussie players will be playing and they be allowed to participate.
Just days after his meeting with Thackeray, Pawar firmly told the Shiv Sena not to impose its authority in the backdrop of its protests against Shah Rukh Khan's "My Name is Khan" film. Pawar had also hailed Mumbaikars for defying the Sena threat.
"There is an autonomous institution in this country which decides which film is to be screened for public viewing and with what cuts and in such a situation no one should create his own authority for it", Pawar said last Friday.