MUMBAI: After the Muslim-Dalit alliance forged by Prakash Ambedkar and Asaduddin Owaisi, the Shiv Sena has begun attempts for organizing Muslims under "Marathi" tag.
In a video that went viral on Sunday, Naseeb Shaikh, a party worker from Beed, is seen appealing Muslims to attend Dussehra Rally of Shiv Sena in large numbers. He is leading the 'Me Marathi Musalman' (I am Marathi Muslim) campaign.
"We have to bring a change in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections in the coming days, for which the Muslim community needs to stand firm with the Shiv Sena. To express this solidarity with the Shiv Sena, we must make our presence felt during the party's Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park on October 18," Shaikh has appealed the Muslim brethren in his about 8 min long video clip.
Shaikh (33) is resident of Sirsala village in Parli Taluka of Beed district and is active in politics for around eight years now. According to him, Sena always respects patriotic Muslims, while most of the other parties have always misled the community and used them only as a vote bank.
"During recent Gram Panchayat elections, Shiv Sena could gain 3,700 out of 4,500 minority votes. I see this as the sign of changing mindset of the minority community. That is the reason why we've started the drive 'Me Marathi Musalman'. We are appealing all our community members across the state to not get fooled by the other parties and bring Shiv Sena to power again," Shaikh said while speaking to The New Indian Express.
The Shiv Sena had been targeting Muslim votes consciously for past few years. During the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in 2017, Shiv Sena had fielded Muslim candidates and even had brought out campaign material in Urdu. In the past, it even had an electoral alliance with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) while former gangster Karim Lala had tried his luck with the politics.
However, there had never been an appeal like this one to attend the Dussehra Rally. During the foundation day program party in January, president Uddhav Thackeray had said that the party won't have any alliances while contesting elections in the future, while recently he had said that he would announce the party's stand and future direction at the party's customary Dussehra Rally. The party appears to be in a mood to show off its strength and resolve to snatch the power in the state during the rally.