Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday accused Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray of dividing the country on regional lines by propagating their ‘Marathi manoos’ ideology of hatred.

Addressing a large congregation of members from the Ravidas community, Mr. Paswan demanded that both leaders be put behind bars and their political outfits banned.

Mr. Paswan held the Congress government in Maharashtra responsible for tacitly permitting the communal activities of the Shiv Sena and the MNS.

“The Congress government is afraid to prosecute the MNS minions as they fear that it will result in their deification as self-sacrificing martyrs who have ostensibly given their all for the ‘Marathi’ people; but by this action it is the ordinary people who are in danger of being ‘martyred’ by these [MNS] thugs,” said Mr. Paswan.

“Nitish, Bal similar”

He said “there was no difference between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Mr. Bal Thackeray as the former was out to divide the Dalit fraternity while the latter was bent on destroying the country’s integrity on regional lines.”

Mr. Paswan alleged that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had done nothing significant for the social and economic uplift of the Dalit community, especially the sweepers and the scavengers.

“Even the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes has condemned the NDA government for establishing the Maha Dalit Commission,” he said, adding that Mr. Kumar’s ‘divisive’ policies had resulted in the NDA’s bitter rout in the August by-election to 18 Assembly seats.