Marathi issue splits saffron parivar

RSS upsets Shiv Sena by declaring that its cadre would protect north Indian's from latter's attack

GN Bureau | February 1, 2010



"Mumbai for Maharashtrians" has driven a wedge between two long-time allies--RSS and Shiv Sena. They are now training their guns at each other after the RSS said it would protect the north Indians from the Shiv Sena's attacks.

The Shiv Sena has hit back saying that the time has come to remind the RSS that "Mumbai belongs to the Marathi people only" and that they should get the priority there. While driving home this point, Shiv Sena leader and former chief minister Manohar Joshi also said Mumbai's glory was due to the hard work of the Marathi people and that they had the full right over the city.

The spat started with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's comments last Saturday that "Mumbai is for all Indians. People of all languages, communities, tribes are children of India... Nobody can prevent Indians from moving to any part of the country in search of employment". The next day, senior RSS functionary Ram Madhav went a step ahead and said the Sangh Parivar had asked its volunteers in Maharashtra to prevent the spread of anti-north Indian and anti-Hindi feelings.

After the loss in the last assembly elections, the Sena is striking a strident posture on various issues core to its ideology. It took on Sachin Tendulkar for saying that Mumbai belonged to all Indians and then on Shahrukh Khan for expressing his unhappiness over missing Pakistani cricketers in the IPL.

But the latest spat with the RSS has put the BJP, its long-time ally in Maharashtra, in a difficult position. BJP president Nitin Gadkari found it difficult to take a stand on the issue saying he would first study Bhagwat's statement before reacting.

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