Defending his stand on the agitation against north Indian migrants, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday said that the stir was not unconstitutional.
Thackeray was responding to the comments by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's aide in then Prime Minister's Office Sudheendra Kulkarni, published in a Marathi newspaper. Thackeray pointed out that in Maharashtra itself, every political party has indulged in political violence and political killings at some time or the other.
"Despite the entire media, especially Hindi and English media, unitedly assaulting me, my party and Maharashtra, not a single worker of mine has hurt anyone in media either verbally or physically," Raj said.
"Leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and north Indian journalists have decided to tag what we are doing under the label of goondagiri," Raj said.
"They (leaders and media) are doing this as their financial, cultural and political interests are intertwined," said the estranged nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
"Leaders involved in political killings come to Maharashtra and teach me non-violence and journalists cosy up to them and dub me and my workers as goondas," Raj said.
"As a former Communist, you must be aware of the millions of killings that took place in Communist agitations," Raj told Kulkarni in his letter published in the same newspaper.
Without naming his cousin and Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, Raj said, "In recent times, agitations are organised as part of compromise between ruling and opposition parties and large morchas are organised. Afterwards, the leaders and their associates go home and sleep."
"Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani has criticised me saying my agitation was unconstitutional but was he not aware of the same when he organised his rath yatra. There was a lot of violence and people were killed but he still proceeded with that agitation," Raj said.
"I have not heard of Advani raising the issue with Narendra Modi after the Godhra killings."
"We participate in Gujarati garba and Bengali navratri. When south Indians perform Ayappa puja, some Maharashtrians offer special prayers," Raj said.
"But Chhat puja is not celebrated as a religious festival in Mumbai. It has become the arena of Bihari leaders and goondas to show their strength to the state," he said.
"When people from other states organise Ganesh festival, do they invite (Maharashtra leaders) Sharad Pawar, Gopinath Munde, Balasaheb (Thackeray), Vilasrao Deshmukh or Sushilkumar Shinde?" he asked.
"I have a clipping in my possession where Amitabh Bachchan says that although he has lived in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai his identity is that of a chhora Ganga kinarewala (a native of Uttar Pradesh)," he said.
"We are not against the common man or the migrant workers from UP and Bihar. If somebody changes according to the house of the host (Maharashtra), he is welcome, but if somebody wants to change the host's home by dadagiri (force), we will never tolerate it," Raj asserted.