Stung by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) criticism of its anti-north Indians policy, the Shiv Sena on Monday hit back saying the RSS should "keep off the issue".
"We do not need lessons from the RSS. It will be in their interest not to rake up the issue. Our stand on this is not new. Mumbai belongs to Marathis," Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray asserted in Mumbai.
Uddhav Thackeray told reporters that that the RSS must clarify its stand on the points raised by its spokesperson Ram Madhav on Sunday.
"It should come clear whether it is the RSS' official position or the personal view of Ram Madhav. Ram Madhav is not the sole voice of the RSS," he said.
Uddhav Thackeray suggested that instead of criticising Sena over its north Indian policy, it would be better if RSS concentrates on the plight of north-Indians in Assam or it could go to southern India and teach Hindi to south Indians.
Among other things, Ram Madhav had said in Nagpur on Sunday that the stand of some political parties vis-a-vis north Indians was deplorable.
In an obvious reference to attacks on north Indians in Mumbai, Ram Madhav also reportedly said that RSS workers would attempt to prevent "such things" wherever they occurred.
The RSS spokesperson's comments were provoked by the debate on Mumbai for Marathis, raked up by the Maharashtra government's move to give new taxi permits only to those who know how to read, write and speak Marathi.
Following an uproar, the state government backtracked saying it applied to knowledge of local languages including Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati.
However, to a pointed question, Uddhav Thackeray said that the latest row would not affect the Sena's relations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in any manner.
Monday's development follows the Sena's vocal criticism of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan as well as and Pakistani and Australian cricketers.