Maharashtra’s Muslims should be like Javed Akhtar who can put Pakistan in its place, says Raj Thackeray

He demanded that the Shinde-Fadnavis govt. dismantle loudspeakers from mosques

March 23, 2023 12:59 am | Updated 12:59 am IST - Pune

While stating that he wanted the State’s Muslims to be like Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar who could put Pakistan in its place, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray warned that his party would not tolerate any “illicit constructions” of religious structures by the minority community and demanded that the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government dismantle loudspeakers from mosques.

Addressing a massive rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park (in the Dadar area) on occasion of Gudi Padwa, Mr. Thackeray taunted his estranged cousin – Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray – while taking jibes at Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as well.

“In the past few days, mosques have again started playing the aazan over loudspeakers. Either the Shinde government dismantle them, or the MNS will do it in their own way,” warned Mr. Thackeray, displaying his hardline ‘Hindutva’ credentials.

He further gave an ultimatum to the Mumbai Commissioner and the State government that they demolish an allegedly illegal ‘dargah’ off the coastline of minority-dominated Mahim, else the MNS activists would build a Ganesha temple next to it.

“I am giving a month’s time for the Mumbai civic authorities, the CM and the Deputy CM to demolish this dargah off the coast of Mahim. Else, we will build the largest Ganesha temple next to it,” said Mr. Thackeray.

However, the MNS chief cannily tempered his rhetoric by stating that he wanted people from all religions with him, and that the Muslims in Maharashtra should be like lyricist Javed Akhtar, who could give it back to Pakistan by speaking out against the latter country’s misdemeanours in Pakistan itself.

Mr. Thackeray played a clip of Mr. Akhtar’s talk at a literary festival in Lahore, wherein the Bollywood lyricist had reminded Pakistan that the 26/11 plotters had yet to be brought to justice. Speaking about Indo-Pak tensions, Mr. Akhtar had also said that while India had organised big concerts of noted Pakistani singers, the latter had not responded in the same manner and had never organised a Lata Mangeshkar concert.

Meanwhile, lambasting Uddhav Thackeray, Raj Thackeray, without taking his cousin’s name, said that loyal Shiv Sainiks like Narayan Rane (now a BJP leader and Union Minister) and himself had exited the party founded by Bal Thackeray’s only because of Uddhav’s petty politicking.

“I had no ambition nor had even dreamt of founding my own party when I left the Sena [in 2005]. How can I found a party when Bal Thackeray was still alive? It was only later when I roamed Maharashtra that I was encouraged of founding my own party,” he said.

The MNS chief, known for his affinity towards the ruling BJP and Shinde faction, nonetheless took jibes at the latter, remarking: “I have never seen a government entirely dependent on the Supreme Court’s judgement. While the unemployed and the students look up to the [Shinde] government, the government looks at the SC’s decision. I say take elections right now and finish off this matter [Sena versus Sena wrangle] once and for all.”

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