PATNA: NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has no significant presence in Bihar, on Sunday announced it was jumping in the poll fray in the state on its own, and claimed its “anti-migrant” image was due to “canard” spread by rivals.
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.
Denying that his party has antipathy for Bihar people, Raut said that on the contrary the people of Maharashtra have strong emotional ties with their counterparts here and respect the Biharis for their patriotism, valour and contributions to freedom struggle.
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. “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,” the Shiv Sena leader told reporters on the sidelines of his party’s state convention here.
He said the party has decided to contest the polls in the state on the agenda of Hindutva, poverty alleviation and employment generation. He said 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 by tomorrow. Quizzed why Shiv Sena had not joined the BJP-led alliance, he said that his party wants to strengthen its support base in Hindi belt and empower the local people.
The Shiv Sen 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. The Shiv Sena leader also took potshot at BJP’s allies in Bihar saying they have been guilty of ideological bankruptcy. He said a leader who had resigned from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government post-Gujarat riots in 2002 was part of the NDA, a refernce to LJP supremo Ramvilas Paswan.
Accusing RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar of failing to usher in development despite ruling Bihar for the past 25 years, the Sena spokesperson rued that the people of the state despite being talented and hardworking have to migrate to other parts of country, including Mumbai, for work in order to sustain themselves and their families.
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, the Shiv Sena leader said that the issue has been blown out of proportion as the authorities only want the taxi drivers to be conversant in local language. “It’s not that decision has been taken to summarily cancel licences of taxi drivers from Bihar or Haryana….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.
The Shiv Sena will fight Bihar assembly polls on the agenda of ‘Akhand Bharat’ to foil divisive designs of such poisonous elements like AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, Raut said. AIMIM wil all be making its electoral debut in the Bihar this time.