The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday slammed the Shiv Sena for demanding the withdrawal of voting rights from the Muslim community, adding that the participation in an electoral process is a constitutional right in India, irrespective of the faith practiced by the person.
"The Constitution of India has granted voting rights to people of all faiths, whether Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian. The BJP believes in 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'. No one can deprive anyone from casting votes. Muslims in India consider the country their motherland," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday had said the voting rights of Muslims should be revoked for some years to ensure the community is not used for vote bank politics.
In an article in the latest issue of the Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamna, Raut compared All India Majlis-e-Ittihadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leaders Asaduddin and Akbaruddin Owaisi to “poisonous snakes” who “exploit” the Muslim minority.
The Rajya Sabha member endorsed a call by late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, popularly known as Balasaheb, to revoke the voting rights of Muslims.
“If Muslims are only being used this way to play politics, then they can never develop. Muslims will have no future till they are used to play vote bank politics and thus Balasaheb had demanded that the voting rights of Muslims should be taken away. What he said is right,” Raut wrote.
Union minister and senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, while not making any direct reference to Sena's comment, tweeted, "India is not a jungle of Talibani thinking.Its a garden of human values, fundamental principles.Polluted air of hatred can't affect it."
India is not a jungle of Talibani thinking.Its a garden of human values, fundamental principles.Polluted air of hatred can't affect it.— Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (@naqvimukhtar) April 13, 2015
Other parties, too, have reacted sharply to the Shiv Sena statement.
The Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, has demanded immediate arrest of Sanjay Raut after registration of a criminal case against him and the Shiv Sena. The party also said that Samna’s publication should be suspended and the publishers should be prosecuted.
Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar accused the Shiv Sena of trying to divide the nation.
"India has second largest population of muslims in the world and in couple of decades we will have highest number of muslims in the world. We should be proud of it. Shiv Sena is trying to divide the nation, they want to break it into pieces," Aiyar said.
Condemning Sena's demand, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said that snatching away the fundamental right is a threat to the nation's democracy.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that the Shiv Sena wants to end democracy and bring in the rule of German dictator Adolf Hitler.
"To snatch away the right of voting from the muslims is a threat to the democracy. If voting rights of the special sections are snatched away, it only indicates that they want to end the democracy and bring in the Hitler rule and the people will not accept it," he told the media.
Another NCP leader Tariq Anwar echoing similar sentiments also lashed out at the Shiv Sena.
"Shiv Sena leaders have lost their thinking. The nation works on the principles of the Constitution. Will it work according to them (Shiv Sena)?" he asked.
Kamal Farooqui, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, on Sunday said, "The comments are unfortunate and against the law."
(With inputs from ANI)