Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday flayed Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray for criticising Sachin Tendulkar, saying the cricket maestro had every right to express his freedom of speech when he said 'Mumbai for all'.
"Everybody has a fundamental right to express his views. I love and respect Marathis. Sachin Tendulkar may be a Maharashtrian, but he is also an Indian. He is an Indian cricketer, they (Shiv Sena) should be proud of that. Sachin is not just an Indian cricketer but an international figure," said the Trinamool Congress chief.
The Sena supremo in the party mouthpiece Saamna had said through his remark Tendulkar "left the crease and moved to the pitch of politics" and this had hurt the Marathi psyche.
Earlier, Tendulkar had said, "I am a Maharashtrian and I am extremely proud of that. But I am an Indian first. And Mumbai belongs to all Indians."