Special Correspondent

Declines comment on Uddhav Thackeray’s warning to ‘non-Maharashtrians’

Supports basic right of any Indian to work anywhere

Opposes any relief packages to kin of terrorists

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday declined to comment on the reported statement of Uddhav Thackeray, chief of its alliance partner Shiv Sena, that non-Maharashtrians would be “packed off” if they were given jobs in the mega project for modernisation of Mumbai airport.

However, it claimed it supported the spirit of the Constitution which allows every Indian to work anywhere in India and it will not support “whoever in whichever party” speaks against this principle.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar found fault with the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra for being “soft” on Raj Thackeray’s outfit the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

“Allies” in civic bodies

He said that in several civic bodies, including those in Mumbai, Amravati, Aurangabad, Pune and Mira-Bhainder the Congress and the MNS were “allies.”

At the same time he admitted that the two parties were in power in only one civic body and in the other they were in the Opposition. “They function as one group in the Opposition,” Mr. Javadekar said.

Explains warning

As reports came in of violence spreading to new areas in Maharashtra, including Nashik, and Pune, Mr. Javadekar tried to explain away Mr. Uddhav Thackeray’s warning against employing “outsiders” in the airport modernisation project.

He suggested that the Sena had come a long way from its earlier sons-of-the-soil plank under which at one time all coming from south Indian States were attacked with the slogan: “Bhagao Lungi, Bajao Pungi” (throw out those who wear lungis, celebrate by blowing bugles).

Cites ‘preference’ laws

According to him some State governments were also concerned about the “sons-of-the-soil” and had passed laws that “preference” should be given to local men and women.

That should not be used to detract from the basic principle that every Indian had the right to live and work anywhere in India.

On terrorism, Mr. Javadekar said that without a law to deal with terrorists specifically, that is, without the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act, the members of the terror module arrested in Uttar Pradesh cannot be convicted.

‘POTA-like law needed’

He defended the clause under the impugned law that would have enabled the State to book them on the basis of statements extracted from them by the police during a180-day police custody allowed under POTA.

The BJP, he said, objected to any relief packages for families of terrorists, pointing out that instead relief packages should be given to the victims of kin.

When reporters cited figures that the number of civilian casualties as a result of terror strikes had come down in the last four years compared to the previous four years of the BJP-led government, Mr. Javadekar said he was not interested in numbers.

He also did not give any statistics to back the party’s claim that terrorism was more under control during the six years of two Vajpayee governments between 1998 and 2004.

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