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Raj Thackeray turns saffron again, backs Modi | India News


MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who had attacked the Modi government during the 2019 Lok Sabha poll campaign, turned saffron all over again on Thursday, coming out in full support of the Citizenship Amendment Act and asking local Muslims why they were protesting in favour of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims.
“Throw out the illegal Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims. I fully support the Centre for this,” Raj said at the MNS’ first ever convention at the Nesco grounds, Goregaon, marking 14 years of its formation. The convention saw the induction of Raj’s son Amit Thackeray as leader of the party, making it clear that the MNS chief now wants to groom him for a larger role in party politics at a time when Amit’s cousin Aaditya is a minister in the state government.
Raj said that while he had criticised PM Modi, he would not hesitate to support him when he does the right thing. “India needs to intensify its security even if it means people are inconvenienced. We are sitting on a ticking bomb. It is important to throw out the Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh and for this I am with the Prime Minister,” he said.
He announced his party would hold rallies on February 9 in support of the CAA. Like other countries, India must act against illegal migrants, he said.
While Raj said he stood for Muslims of the country, he noted that he would not tolerate those Muslims who “fanned trouble in the country.” Defending Urdu, he said it was not the language of the Muslims and reminded his supporters that Bangladeshis had demanded a separate country for the Bengali language and not for Urdu.
“Is India a dharamshala? I am told it costs only Rs2,500 to make your way from Bangladesh into India. From Pakistan they come via Nepal. Stop the Samjhauta Express and the bus service. Why do we have any relations with Pakistan?” he asked.
Religion, he said, was a personal thing. Targeting Muslims, he said, “Keep your religion in your house. Shut off the loudspeakers on masjids. Our aarti does not trouble, why should namaz trouble others?”
Raj, who changed his party’s flag to saffron with Shivaji Maharaj’s royal seal on it, said the flag had been first used by the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti which, however, later disintegrated, leading to the birth of the Shiv Sena.
“When the MNS was being formed in 2006 I wanted to make this the party flag, but advisors told me to include green — what they now call social engineering. I was 36-37 years old then and there was no one to guide me, so I went along. But the flag never left me and six years ago, we used it at our annual party rally during Gudi Padva,” he said.
“This flag is my DNA and I decided to bring it forth for this convention. The Raj Mudra (Shivaji’s royal seal) is our inspiration. This flag is to be well taken care of by the one handling it and not left lying on the floor. This flag is not to be used during elections, for that we have the other flag,” he said.
On changing the party flag, he said the Jan Sangh in the 80s had changed its flag and name to Bharatiya Janata Party. “One has to shed one’s old skin for a positive change,” he said.
In his speech, he said he was a Marathi and a Hindu and would fight anyone who challenged these identities.
On him going the Hindutva way, Raj said no one asked him if he was standing up for Hindutva when he protested against the Raza Academy demonstrators misbehaving with women constables or when party workers chased away Pakistani singers. Nor did anyone ask if he was for Hindutva when he resisted restrictions placed on the number of tiers for dahi handi. “Why are you asking now where we are going?” he asked.
He alleged there were “mohallas” in Maharashtra where a conspiracy was being hatched against the country. He said he would share this information with the Union home minister and the chief minister. He congratulated PM Modi on nullifying Article 370 and the Supreme Court for allowing the Ram Mandir.
MNS spokesperson Nitin Sardesai announced the party would set up a shadow cabinet that will take up people’s issues and not allow the government to distract the public with “inane” controversies like the recent one over the book comparing Narendra Modi with Shivaji Maharaj. Members of the shadow cabinet would be announced shortly, Sardesai said.

Times of India