The Shiv Sena on Friday added Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and actor Shah Rukh Khan to its long list of targets.
Ambani’s fault: During a panel discussion at the London School of Economics on Tuesday, he said making Marathi mandatory for Mumbai taxi drivers was “unfortunate”, as “we are all Indians first. Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi belong to all Indians”.
Khan’s fault: On the controversy over Pakistani cricketers not being selected to play in the Indian Premier League, he said they should be allowed in India. Khan co-owns Kolkata Knight Riders, an IPL team.
The Sena’s take: In a front-page article in mouthpiece Saamna, party chief Balasaheb Thackeray said: “You (Ambani) are welcome to carry on business, but don’t meddle with Mumbai and the Marathi manoos.”
He asked: “When ‘Pandit Mukesh Ambani’ says Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi belong to all Indians, why has he left out cities likes Ahmedabad, Jamnagar and Rajkot?”
This was an oblique reference to Mukesh’s father, Reliance Group founder Dhirubhai Ambani’s origin in Gujarat.
Khan, however, received a harsher treatment. On Friday, Sena activists tore the posters of Khan’s new release, My Name is Khan, in Thane and ordered the theatre-owner not to screen the film.
The Sena earlier announced that it would disrupt IPL matches if Pakistani players were allowed to participate.
Sena spokesman and MP Sanjay Raut said: “He (Khan) should sell off his bungalow in Bandra and go to Karachi or Islamabad to play with them. If he includes Pakistani players in his team, he should watch out for the consequences.”
But Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe assured Khan of police protection. “Also, all players from Pakistan will be given full security.”
In the last assembly elections in October 2009, the Sena lost a lot of ground to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. And with the civic polls due in February 2012, the Sena’s top priority is to retain power in the civic bodies of Mumbai and Thane.