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Shiv Sena goes on defensive after its offensive on Gujaratis

Party sought to clarify its stand on the community after a Saamana edit targeted affluent members of the community for ‘exploiting Mumbai like a whore’

Shiv Sena stretched its limits in some damage-control acrobatics on Thursday after an edit in its mouthpiece Saamana took below-the-belt jibes at the Gujarati community.

The Saamana edit criticised Gujaratis for not participating in Maharashtra Day celebrations. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The Saamana edit criticised Gujaratis for not participating in Maharashtra Day celebrations. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Clarifying its position on remarks made in the editorial piece, Sena said the Gujarati society of Maharashtra had always stood behind it and its founder and chief Bal Thackeray.

Subhash desai
Subhash Desai

The party’s clarification was a rearward somersault from the harsh indictments made in the edit. ‘The affluent classes living in Malabar Hill, Walkeshwar, Cuffe Parade, Colaba and Juhu have never participated in Maharashtra Day celebrations observed on May 1.

They have built castles of prosperity by exploiting Mumbai like a whore and now they are drafting strategies on whom to install in the chair of prime minister and whom to pull down,’ the edit had said.

It termed them as “bepari (traders) who are coming together on the issue of making someone from their soil as the new prime minister. But they never descended from their mansions to participate in Maharashtra Day”.

“These Gujaratis should unite for unfurling the saffron flag of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj atop Mantralaya, the state headquarters,” it said.

Modi for PM: Sena
Obviously, the edit got many danders up, and senior Sena leader Subhash Desai, who is also the publisher of the daily, had to clear the air. A press communiqué from him came in the evening.

It said, “They (Gujaratis) felt safe under the Shiv Sena government and their businesses thrived. Similarly Shiv Sena stood by them in times of need like 1992, the Bhuj earthquake and during Narmada development, and has voiced their concerns effectively.

“It is time that on this foundation day, both the communities unite to help in the progress of Maharashtra, the karma bhoomi and janma bhoomi for many Gujaratis. These elections saw that unity. This is the sentiment of the Shiv Sena. Any view voiced anywhere moving away from this is not the official view of the party.”

The elucidation was much humbler in the tone and tenor the edit assumed. He also said the editorial had no intention of hurting anybody’s sentiments. “There is no need for a controversy,” he said, adding, “There has been a good voter turnout in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

Every one has united to vote against the Congress-led UPA, and the Sena-BJP is all set to defeat Congress-NCP. Narendra Modi will be the prime minister and the dream of a Congress-free country will be realised.”

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