Mumbai/Aurangabad: Amid an outrage over Shiv Sena MPs force-feeding a Muslim catering worker fasting during Ramzan, its President Uddhav Thackeray today said the uproar over the incident was an attempt to "silence" his party's voice.
Attempting to play down the issue, Thackeray said that "it was a trivial" matter and there was no need to give it communal overtones.
He, however, said despite being a votary of Hindutva, Shiv Sena had no hatred for other religions. "This (uproar over the incident) is an attempt to silence Shiv Sena's voice. We are proponents of Hindutva but we don't have hatred for other religions," Uddhav told reporters in Aurangabad.
There was an uproar in Parliament after Video footage showed a Shiv Sena MP purportedly thrusting chapati into the mouth of a Muslim catering worker at Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi last week. They were reportedly angry over not being served Maharashtrian food.
Party spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that these people who are trying to put a communal colour on the incident "have lost their mental balance".
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. File pic
Thackeray categorically denied the incident which happened July 17 -- that Shiv Sena MP from Thane Rajan Vichare allegedly forced a 'roti' into the mouth of Maharashtra Sadan canteen staffer Ashraf Zubair, complaining about the poor quality of food served there.
Since Zubair was observing a Ramadan fast, it is claimed that Vichare's action broke the fast, raising a controversy which echoed in Parliament on Wednesday.
Vichare was reportedly peeved that Maharashtrian type of cuisine was not available at the Maharashtra Sadan where the canteen is managed by IRCTC.
Angry at what he alleged was poor quality food, Vichare put the entire blame on Zubair and even attempted to push a 'roti' into his mouth.
Later, canteen manager Shankar Malhotra reported the entire matter to Maharashtra Resident Commissioner in New Delhi Bipin Malik.
The Shiv Sena was also peeved because last week Malik had refused permission to hold a state cultural programme in Maharashtra Sadan, was not allotting rooms to state MPs and other issues.
Vichare himself dismissed the allegations levelled against him and said that their grievance was about the poor management of Maharashtra Sadan.