The Shiv Sena on Saturday sought to embarrass the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and mocked chief minister Devendra Fadnavis over what it called its ally’s “ambivalent stand” towards Pakistan.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece, Saamna, the Sena made a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to Britain’s MPs in the British Parliament Gallery on Thursday, where he called for isolation of nations that harbour terrorists.
“The Maharashtra chief minister must listen to Modi’s speech and congratulate Sena workers for their opposition of Pakistan. If Modi’s speech has any truth to it, then the chief minister must concede that Sena has made Maharashtra proud,” said the editorial.
It was an apparent barb at Fadnavis over his Shiv Sena “brought disrepute to Maharashtra” statement, which was made last month after the party’s protests led to cancellation of Pakistani ghazal legend Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai.
Claiming that the Sena had been trying to isolate Pakistan through its protests against the resumption of cultural and sporting ties with the neighbouring country, the editorial said: “The British MPs seemed mesmerised by the PM’s speech and gave him a standing ovation for a minute after the speech ended. Listening to his thoughts, people in Maharashtra were mesmerised as well. But, were those who filed criminal charges against Shiv Sena workers for their anti-Pakistan stance also mesmerised?”
The chief minister had publicly said declared that Sena workers behind the anti-Pakistan agitations would face criminal charges.
Slamming the BJP governments at the Centre and in state, for criticising their agitations against Pakistan, the editorial said: “Modi says we must isolate those who spread terror, but when we oppose ties with Pakistan and try and isolate it culturally, the BJP government opposes us. Why is that? How can we tell the world to isolate Pakistan while we plan to resume cricketing ties with it?”
Other than forcing organisers of the Ghulam Ali concert to cancel the Mumbai event, the Sena had also vehemently opposed the book launch of former Pakistan foreign affairs minister Khurshid Kasuri in Mumbai and its workers had blackened the face of the event organiser and Observer Research Foundation (ORF) chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Last month, Sena workers even forcefully entered the office of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar and asked him to cancel a scheduled meeting with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief for resuming cricketing ties between the two countries.