Mumbai: The war of words between Shiv Sena and columnist Shobhaa De seems to be getting murkier by the day. Continuing her rant against Sena, the writer-columnist used Sania Mirza’s historic achievement to attack leader Sanjay Raut who has stirred a controversy by saying that the voting rights of Muslims should be scrapped.
On Sunday, Mirza created history by becoming the first female tennis player from India to achieve the world number one rank in doubles, following her stupendous title win at the WTA Family Circle Cup with partner Martina Hingis.
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut had claimed in his weekly column for Saamna, the party mouthpiece, that the voting rights of Muslims should be scrapped “to stop the use of Muslims as a votebank”.
In his Sunday column, Raut, who is also Saamna’s executive editor, claimed that late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had suggested the voting rights of Muslims should be taken away to stop “votebank politics”. Raut went on to say he agreed with the idea.
“The issue of Muslim votebank is a matter of worry and a headache. Everyone is indulging in ‘votebank politics’ under the pretext of (fighting to remove) their sorrows, poverty and lack of education,” he said.
The Shiv Sena MP claimed Congress candidate Narayan Rane had offered Rs 17 crore to AIMIM candidate Rehbar Khan to withdraw from the Bandra East Assembly byelection. “Every candidate who calls himself ‘secular’ tries to ensure that another candidate who can divide Muslim votes does not contest. The AIMIM candidate during his election campaign announced he was offered Rs 17 crore by the Congress candidate to withdraw. Some people want candidates who can divide Muslim votes and some do not want division of Muslim votes. As long as mere numbers of Muslim voters are going to remain the only factor in an election, development of the Muslim community is not possible. There will be no future for Muslims as long as there is Muslim votebank politics. Therefore Balasaheb had demanded scrapping of voting rights of Muslims, and it was correct,” Mr Raut said.
De has been at loggerheads with the Sena after she voiced her displeasure on Twitter on mandatory screening of Marathi films in Maharashtra’s multiplexes.
This led to the Shiv Sena moving a privilege motion notice against her in Assembly for hurting the feelings of Marathi-speaking people.
The Mumbai police, taking no chances, has deployed security at her residence.
De, reacting to the Sena’s move, later said she was proud to be a Maharashtrian and loved Marathi films, but when contacted by this newspaper, refused to comment.
Earlier, state minister Vinod Tawde had said that the screening of Marathi films at prime time would be made mandatory. Reacting sharply to this, Ms De termed it dadagiri (high-handedness) and said CM was a “diktatwala”. She had also tweeted that “popcorn will be replaced with dahi misal and vada pav in multiplexes”.