Pakistan has generated havoc and bitterness in Indian polity without lifting a finger. In Maharashtra ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena has hit back at BJP leader and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis calling him pro-Pakistan after he blamed Sena for bringing the state a bad name due to the protests against Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid M Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “the CM says that Shiv Sena’s protest brought disrepute to Maharashtra. It looks like the CM does not know Maharashtra. In fact, CM’s pro-Pakistan stand has brought disrepute for the state.”
Fadnavis had disapproved Sena’s protests saying the issue has brought disrepute to the state. He said, “We may not agree with views of somebody, but when a foreign dignitary or a diplomat arrives on a valid visa and holds a programme, which is not illegal, it’s the duty of a state to provide protection.”
Raut said that Sena is intensely nationalist and opposed the programme due to this attitude. Raut said, “cops like Tukaram Ombale who laid down their lives fighting against Pakistan in Mumbai. Such police force was used by chief minister to protect Pakistan, insulting the martyrs.”
“If fighting against Pakistan is a crime, then Sena has committed that crime.”
Accusing Sudheendra Kulkarni of being a “Pakistani agent”, Raut had said that blackening of Kulkarni s face was a mild protest.”
Meanwhile, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya has sought to justify his party’s opposition to the release of the book and also a concert by ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali while replying to journalist Rajdeep Sardesai’s open letter questioning the Sena’s actions.
“Of course non-violent incidents like ink shed on some by a certain few parties would anger you to tag it as violence, but otherwise it would be democratic and historic. Ink spilt may be more violent for you than its intent to protest against all the innocent blood spilt on the streets of Mumbai, Jammu and Kashmir, every city that has faced Pakistan-sponsored terrorism,” Aaditya wrote in a letter released by the Shiv Sena.
Earlier, Sardesai wrote in his open letter: “You have every right to feel strongly about Pak-based terror. You have every right to dislike Mr Kasuri. But if you don’t like him or Pakistan, or his book, don’t read it, boycott the function, wear a black band. Ditto with Ghulam Ali. But what gives you or the Sena’s goons the right to physically attack the organisers or force the government to call off a concert?”
Sardesai added: “If Maharashtra’s asmita has to be defended, maybe Sainiks should go to Marathwada and help farm widows in distress. Or is that not the kind of front page news your party seeks?”
In his response, Aaditya referred to the families of soldiers killed by Pakistani forces or terrorists and said efforts by India to forge peaceful relations with Pakistan had never been reciprocated.
“Let’s not forget that the Shiv Sena supported the peace talks with a caution of betrayal of course, and does so even today. Let’s not forget every terrorist attack, the train blasts, the 26/11 attacks (which I escaped unhurt narrowly, from our very own college…as I was rehearsing on a play we were working on), and many more in the (Kashmir) Valley that we wake up to, every day and every month…,” he wrote.
On concerts by Pakistani artists, Aaditya said: “Could we have these concerts for peace and unity at the LoC (Line of Control) or in areas where there is heavy mortar shelling? Or why not first open the eyes of the country that harbours terrorist camps? Why was a movie like Phantom that speaks of eliminating terror banned in Pakistan?”
Aaditya contended that the Shiv Sena is working to provide relief to farmers affected by drought across Maharashtra.
Sardesai too responded to Aaditya’s missive with another letter, in which he questioned the Shiv Sena leader’s call for snapping normal ties with Pakistan by pointing out that prime ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had exchanged a handshake in the Russian city of Ufa and agreed to fight terror jointly.
“If you felt so strongly about prime minister Modi reaching out to Pakistan, then maybe you should have withdrawn from the Union cabinet?…And why was there no protest when Mr Kasuri was given a visa, or had a book release in Delhi that was attended by BJP stalwarts LK Advani and Yashwant Sinha?” Sardesai wrote.
Sardesai said his definition of violence was at variance with that of Aaditya. “I certainly see ink throwing as a violent, undemocratic act. The definition of non-violence in the dictionary is this: the use of peaceful means, not force to bring about social and political change…An AK-47 kills, ink blackens the face: the effect maybe vastly different, but both get their legitimacy from brazen use of muscle power,” he added.
“What message are we sending out to the policemen if their leaders encourage violation of the law? And if you feel that Devendra Fadnavis is wrong in providing security to the former Pakistani foreign minister, then why not take a black flag protest to Mantralaya, why seek to prevent those Mumbaikars who may want to attend a book function from doing so?” Sardesai wrote.
He noted that the Shiv Sena “is a political party, not a local militia”. The party, across generations of leaders, has been “consistent in justifying violence but it should now “move away from the politics of ‘thokshahi’ to a focussed approached on job creation”, he said.