BJP’s coalition partner in Bihar the JD(U) has decided to oppose Raj Thackeray’s visit to the holy city and has demanded an apology from him for his stand on the north Indians.
Talking to TOI, JDU spokesperson KC Tyagi said, “We [(JD(U)] are not against Raj Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit per se. But we are against his discriminatory attitude towards the north Indians. Students from north India were not allowed to sit in competitive examinations held in Maharashtra and they were beaten up by MNS workers. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had intervened in the matter. Taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers and small traders from this part of the country are beaten up and harassed by Thackeray’s supporters in Maharashtra.”
Tyagi further said, “Raj Thackeray should say sorry and also admit that he was on the wrong path. Otherwise, how can he dare visit Ayodhya? He is Enemy No. 1 of the north Indians.”
Asked whether JDU’s stand against Thackeray will strain the party’s relations with BJP, Tyagi said, “From time to time, NDA has been opposing Raj Thackeray’s brand of politics.”
He also referred to the protests from senior BJP leaders against Thackeray’s June 5 Ayodhya visit. He said, “BJP MP from Kaiserganj, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, is leading protests against Thackeray. JD(U) is backing Singh in this protest. We also request BJP not to be seen with Thackeray.”
Singh is reported to have planned a massive protest against Thackeray at Ayodhya. He said if Raj Thackeray did not want to apologise to the north Indians, he should at least apologise to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which would satisfy them.
BJP Mumbai’s spokesperson Sanjay Thakur, in a letter to Thackeray, has demanded his apology for the migrant hawkers, taxi drivers and labourers who faced the MNS leader’s ire.
However, leader of opposition in Maharashtra assembly and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said last week that the BJP MPs should not oppose Thackeray’s proposed visit to Ayodhya. “Anyone can visit Lord Ram and seek his blessings,” he had said.
This statement is being seen as an endorsement by the BJP of Thackeray’s proposed visit. Tyagi requested Fadnavis to seek Thackeray’s apology before supporting him.
While Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh opposes Thackeray’s visit, another prominent BJP MP – Lallu Singh from Faizabad whose constituency covers Ayodhya – has welcomed the MNS chief’s proposed tour.
Lallu Singh said, “As devotees of Lord Ram, we welcome anyone seeking refuge in Lord Ram. This is due to the grace of Lord Ram that Raj Thackeray is coming to Ayodhya and we will welcome him … It is the local administration’s job to ensure law and order. There is no opposition in BJP and what Brij Bhushan Singh is saying is his personal opinion.”