Protesting Sachin Tendulkar’s “I am an Indian first and Mumbai is for all” remark, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, in a letter to the cricketer in Saamna, said Sachin was not even born when Marathi people fought for Mumbai.
He referred to the bloody struggle for the formation of Maharashtra State and the martyrdom of 105 people for Mumbai. “Mumbai cannot belong to anyone else and even if it was the country’s economic capital, it was the capital of Maharashtra first.”
The Sena chief commended Tendulkar for his game and riches and the fact that he was a billionaire. However, Mr. Thackeray said, the cricketer’s statement that he was an Indian first and Maharashtrian later had shaken Maharashtrians.
A separate editorial, “Sachin’s no ball,” has reminded Sachin of his Marathi roots and told him not to forget where he had come from, among other things.
Defending the diatribe as friendly advice, Sena leader Subhash Desai told a press conference that Mr. Thackeray had not said anything undesirable, adding he had the right to advise Sachin.
“Just as Sachin is the last word in cricket, Mr. Bal Thackeray is the last word for Mumbai and Maharashtra.”
Support for Sachin
However, support for the cricketer has come from Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who told a television channel that Sachin had spoken from the heart and his remarks would unite the country.
Sachin’s remarks were made in the spirit of a sportsman, Mr. Chavan said. He did not attach any importance to Sachin’s critics.
None can object to Sachin’s stand: Jaitley
In a veiled attack on its alliance partner Shiv Sena, the BJP on Monday supported cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘Mumbai for all’ remark, saying nobody could object to his stand.
“Sachin is fully correct. I don’t think anybody can have objection to it ... India is proud of him and he is proud of being an Indian,” senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley told journalists in New Delhi
Mr. Jaitley, however, refused to respond to a question whether Sena chief Bal Thackeray had ‘insulted’ Sachin by accusing him of hurting Marathi sentiments.