Strongly condemning Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's strong reaction to cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar's assertion of his identity as an Indian, the Congress party said Monday that his comments were not worth a reaction.
"We would not like to dignify them (Thackeray's remarks) with a response from this podium, but given the long term implications of such assertions, we have chosen to address them," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
He said political parties which raise narrow identity-based issues in order to satiate their political ambitions insult the unity, diversity and the pluralism of India.
"They assault the very idea of India. Their idea, language and idiom belong to a path which the people of India have overwhelmingly repudiated and rejected repeatedly. It is not the language which an emerging world power or the leadership of an emerging world power speaks," he said.
Tewari said if political parties instead raised issues connected with the everyday life of people, they would fulfil their role in a better way.
Thackeray, in a signed, open letter to the cricketer published in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, said his "friendly advice" to Tendulkar was that he should "concentrate on the international pitch" and stay away from politics for his "own well-being".
Thackeray was reacting to Tendulkar's statement last week that he was "a proud Maharashtrian but an Indian first" and "Mumbai belongs to all".