Updated: January 24, 2020 3:07:41 am
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday formally hitched his party on to the Hindutva bandwagon, launching a tirade against “Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslim infiltrators” and announcing a public rally on February 9 to seek their deportation.
In an attempt to fill the perceived political void after the Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the Congress and NCP, Thackeray seems to be trying to position MNS as a regional Hindutva party.
On Thursday, Thackeray targeted the protests across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
“It is important to send these Muslim infiltrators back. We need to answer the gatherings that are coming out with our own morcha (rally). On February 9, we will take out our morcha to seek the deportation of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims, who have come into our country,” he said.
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He said the anti-CAA protests across the country were an “expression of resentment” by Muslims, who had been “seething over the withdrawal of Article 370 in Kashmir” and the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict.
Speaking about the party’s new saffron flag, he said he had wanted it right from the beginning but was forced to go with the previous flag because of inputs of supporters who wanted the party to work towards social engineering.
The crux of Thackeray’s speech was directed at presenting himself as the proponent of Hindutva. He questioned the use of loudspeakers at mosques in the city. He, however, refrained from directly criticising the Shiv Sena.
The MNS also appointed Thackeray’s son, Amit, as a leader of the party.
The shift in the party’s outlook is being seen as a planned effort with an eye on attracting disgruntled Shiv Sainiks as well as Hindutva supporters, who are disillusioned with Sena’s decision to join hands with the Congress and NCP. According to sources, the BJP is keen to prop up the MNS as a counter to the Sena. Several BJP leaders have held meetings with Thackeray in the last few weeks.
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