Patna: NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has no significant presence in Bihar, announced on Sunday that it was jumping into the poll fray in the state on its own, and claimed its “anti migrant” image was due to “canard” spread by rivals.
The party’s national spokesperson Sanjay Raut told reporters that Sena, which is ruling Maharashtra in alliance with BJP, will contest 150 seats in Bihar, where BJP-led alliance is locked in a stiff contest with the Nitish Kumar-led coalition of JD(U)-RJD-Congress.
He said the party has decided to contest the polls in the state on the agenda of Hindutva, poverty alleviation and employment generation. He also added that the process for selection of Shiv Sena candidates for the polls to 243-member Bihar Assembly, which will be in held in five phases from October 12, was nearly complete and the first list will be out today.
Denying that his party has antipathy for the people of Bihar, Raut said that on the contrary the people of Maharashtra have strong emotional ties with their counterparts in Patna and respect the Biharis for their patriotism, valour and contributions to freedom struggle.
When asked about allegations of atrocities against migrants, including those from Bihar, in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, Raut dismissed them claiming that there was no example of Shiv Sena and its workers targeting migrants. He alleged that some politicians in Bihar were spreading “canard” instead of focusing on development of the state.
He said, “Some politicians of Bihar are more interested in happenings in Mumbai and making noise about atrocities on migrants than actually doing something for development of the state.” Upon being quizzed on why Shiv Sena had not joined the BJP-led alliance, he said that his party wants to strengthen its support base in the Hindi belt and empower the local people.
The Shiv Sena and BJP had ended their 25-year-old alliance before the Maharashtra Assembly polls last year over seat sharing. Though the two reunited after the poll results to form a government, the strain in ties has been visible with Sena being openly critical of its dominant partner.
On the recent controversy related to Maharashtra transport department cancelling licences of thousands of taxi drivers in Mumbai hailing from Poorvanchal region apparently for their lack of knowledge of Marathi language, Raut said that the issue has been blown out of proportion as the authorities only want the taxi drivers to be conversant in the local language.
“There is nothing wrong if taxi drivers are asked to be conversant in local languages, be it in Maharashtra or any other part of the country,” he said.