Mumbai: Voting rights of Muslims should be revoked to stop vote-bank politics, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has said in an article slamming AIMIM leaders Asaduddin and Akbaruddin Owaisi for polarising the community.
Reacting sharply, Congress slammed the ruling alliance for spreading hatred.
In the article published in the latest issue of the Shiv Sena's mouth-piece Saamna, Raut, also a Rajya Sabha member, addressed All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Owaisi as "Owaisi bhai from Hyderabad" and said: "As long as Muslim votes are for sale, the community will remain backward and its leaders will become rich."
In the article written in Marathi, he said it was because of this that Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray had said "voting rights for Muslims should be taken away".
"Owaisi bhai is doing politics of Muslim votes and we don't know if it will benefit him or the community, but it will harm the country," Raut said in the write-up.
The Shiv Sena leader also said that earlier the Imam of Jama Masjid had assumed the right to guide Muslim votes, now Owaisi is doing that, and added that it is an "alarm bell" for Muslims.
Akbaruddin Owaisi, in a rally in Mumbai earlier this week, had targeted Shiv Sena and dared Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to come to Hyderabad.
Defending his comments later, Raut said vote bank politics has taken Muslims away from the mainstream.
"This vote bank politics has kept Muslims away from the main stream. Go and see in what condition Muslims live... what did their leaders do for the community in 50 years. They made Pakistan... (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah did vote bank politics, Jama Masjid Imam tried to polarise votes, Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad did the same... and now we have this new leader (Owaisi)," Raut said.
"As long as this vote bank politics continues, Muslims will be away from the main stream. So Balasaheb said for social development of Muslims, they should be kept away from politics for a while," he said.
The Congress slammed the ruling NDA government on Sunday for spreading hatred, after the article in Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamna sought revoking voting rights of Muslims.
"The Saamna thinks it lives in some Talibanised land and not in a democratic country like India. The Saamna has no place in culture like ours," Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi on Sunday.
Congress leader Anand Sharma asked why communal comments keep pouring in despite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurances.
"It is very clear you have elements who are out to create conflict and division in the society and inflame passion. Despite the prime minister's repeated assurances in parliament, senior (BJP) leaders and members of Sangh Parivar keep making such statements," Sharma told reporters in the national capital.
"It is time they realise, they have been elected to provide governance not to create daily commotion," he said.