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'Raj keen on visiting Pakistan'

After creating his own party and a changed USP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray seems to have changed his stance, reports Sanjeev Shivadekar.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 23:06 IST

When he was in the Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray was spewing venom against Pakistan. Now, after creating his own party and a changed USP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray seems to have changed his stance.

"Raj is keen on visiting our country," claimed a member of the delegation of six Pakistani journalists, who had called on him at his Dadar office on Thursday.
"We are happy that he accepted our invitation to visit our country after the elections," said Muqtada Ali Khan, editorial co-ordinator of Pakistan Press International (PPI), a news agency.

When asked, Raj said hesitatingly: "I told them that I would consider visiting their country only if they stop their terrorist activities in India."

The delegation was keen on meeting Raj as they felt that he had chalked out a different path from his uncle and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, Khan said.

In an hour-long informal chat, Thackeray discussed Indo-Pak relations, terrorism, his party's policies and even sports with the journalists.

Ironically, Bal Thackeray and his Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav have been threatening agitations if Pakistani team is allowed to play cricket in India.

The delegation also asked Raj about his stand on the death penalty for Afzal Guru, a prime accused in the attack on Parliament. "Raj insisted that Afzal should be hanged," said Sajad Anwar from Daily Jung.

Jatin Desai and Yuvraj Mohite from the Media for the People, an organisation of journalists, were also present at the meeting.

Mohite said: "Everyone in Pakistan is not a terrorist. Indian journalists and political leaders should visit Pakistan to know more about the country."

What Raj had said about Pakistan?
August 18, 2006:
While addressing a public rally at Azad Maidan, Raj Thackeray alleged that Pakistan was involved in the serial blasts in trains on July 11. He said: "Without help from here (India), Pakistan cannot carry out such activities."

October 2006:
During the recent ICC Champion's Trophy, when Shiv Sena decided to boycott the cricket match with Pakistan, Raj supported the view. He added that India should not play with Pakistan even at neutral venues anywhere in the world.

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First Published: Nov 23, 2006 23:06 IST