Two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party won the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation polls with a clear majority, the Shiv Sena charged its alliance partner in the state government of winning the polls using “money” and muni (monk), referring to a Jain monk who reportedly made a videographed plea to community members to vote for the BJP.
The Sena also compared the Jain monk to controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik, calling his canvassing for votes a “fatwa”. The Sena on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India, objecting to Jain monk Naypadmasagarji Maharaj’s video in which the spiritual leader is seen urging the community to vote for the BJP to create a “meat-free society”. The Sena has demanded the disqualification of the candidates who benefited from the monk’s speech.
“The monk has campaigned on religious lines to help BJP candidates win. The BJP won the polls using money and muni. The BJP’s victory is a disgrace to Maharashtra’s culture,” said Sanjay Raut, senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP, addressing the media at the Sena headquarters in Dadar.
“The Jama Masjid’s Imam used to come out with such fatwas earlier. Now, the Jain monk came out with a fatwa in the Mira Bhayander polls. Such people are political goons, I compare them to Zakir Naik,” said Raut. He said as campaigning on religious lines is a violation of the model code of conduct, the party has filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commission.
BJP has bagged 61 seats out of 95 in the Mira Bhayander civic polls held on Sunday. The Sena, which was hoping to win more than 45 seats, received a major setback and won only 22 seats. The Congress won 10 seats while the NCP could not open its account. Raut further said the monk’s speech in the video shows his hatred towards Maharashtra.
“The Jain community in Mumbai and Maharashtra is very peaceful. On listening to the monk’s speech, it seems he has changed the definition of religion. The language used by the monk is a kind of violence. Those opposing meat can say that soldiers at the border should eat vegetarian food. If we listen to this, the country will drown,” said Raut, warning the monk not to use such language about the Sena in the future.
He further said the party respects Jain leaders and party leaders have visited their temples on several occasions.
“But if someone is trying to win elections in Maharashtra by dividing people on religious grounds, then they do not have right to utter the word ‘Maharashtra’,” said Raut, adding that the Sena had come to the community’s help during the 1993 communal riots in Mumbai. He also claimed that most girls lured into “Love Jihad” were from the Jain community and that the Sena was trying to save them. Incidentally, the same monk campaigned for a Sena candidate during the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Sena leaders are clearly seen in videos sharing a dais with the monk.
The BJP has hit out at the Sena stating that it needs to introspect for the reasons behind its defeat instead of blaming a religious leader. “We have always taken people from all communities with us and have won the elections. We are proud of that. We have never made any attempt to use community or religion to seek votes. It is a defeat of thieves and swindlers,” said Ashish Shelar, president of the Mumbai unit of the BJP. He further said the Sena’s statements reflect its frustration.
The All India Jain Minority Cell also condemned the Sena’s remarks against the Jain monk. “Comparing the Jain monk to a terrorist is completely wrong. We are a peaceful community. Raut should withdraw his statements and apologise publicly to the monk,” said Lalit Gandhi, national president of the Cell.
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