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'BJP is more pseudo-secular than the Congress'

January 31, 2017 09:17 IST

'If they call themselves a Hindutva party, then they must sever the alliance with the PDP in Kashmir.'

Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut is known for writing acerbic articles against the Narendra Modi government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Maharashtra in the Sena's daily newspaper, Saamna.

Though the Shiv Sena is a part of the coalition government in Maharashtra and at the Centre, Raut has regularly lambasted the BJP and its policies in his articles.

After the old allies decided to contest municipal elections in Mumbai separately, Raut's attacks on the BJP have intensified.

Raut, image, below, spoke to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf about the BJP and the February 21 Mumbai civic election.

BJP chief Amit Shah said in a television interview that the Shiv Sena and BJP contesting municipal elections separately is like a friendly match. Do you agree?

This is not a friendly match. There are no friendly matches in politics. We do not believe in such things.

What issues will the Sena contest the Mumbai civic polls?

Development is always an issue.

Whatever development has happened in Mumbai is because of the Shiv Sena.

The central government has never paid attention towards Mumbai.

All the political parties want money from Mumbai.

Today, Mumbai city alone provides a revenue of more than Rs 2 lakh crore (annually) to the Centre.

Still, it does not get anything in return.

There are many issues, but the most important thing is that Mumbai needs the Shiv Sena.

There is no political party which has an emotional connect with Mumbai.

All the other parties are professionally or commercially connected to Mumbai.

The Shiv Sena is the only party which is connected emotionally to Mumbai.

We have emotions for Mumbai city.

The BJP is highlighting corruption in the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), which is ruled by the Sena...

The BJP and the Congress have no right to speak about corruption.

There are corruption charges against 11 BJP ministers, so they have no right to talk about corruption.

Was the split with the BJP avoidable, given that you are allies in the Maharashtra government and at the Centre?

We too did not want to split with the BJP.

Even during the Maharashtra assembly elections, we did not want to break the alliance.

It was the BJP which broke the alliance.

If the BJP had not got such a huge majority in the Lok Sabha polls, probably our alliance would not have been broken in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections.

Don't you feel offering the BJP 60 seats for the BMC polls was an insult to that party?
On what basis did your party come to that figure?

In the assembly elections, the number of seats offered to us by the BJP was also humiliating.

Therefore, the alliance broke.

Compared to that, 60 seats in the BMC polls was an okay figure.

In Mumbai city, the Shiv Sena's impact must always be felt.

Don't you feel that voters get a wrong message if the Sena and BJP contest against each other?

No. Because we feel Mumbai's voters trust us.

Do you feel the BJP wants to play the role of big brother in Mumbai, your home turf?

No big brother or small brother attitude.

The Shiv Sena is the Shiv Sena in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

Someone winning 10 or 15 assembly seats (in Mumbai) is not a big brother.

Do you feel it is advantage Congress as BJP and Sena votes will be split now?

The Congress is finished in Mumbai city.

The AMIM (the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) will get more seats in Mumbai than the Congress.

Do you feel the Shiv Sena gaining ground in Goa distresses BJP leaders?

We have fought in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar too.

If the Shiv Sena wants to fight in different states, it is their right.

Goa is a different state and our base is increasing in Goa. It will increase more.

You have been accusing the BJP of abandoning the cause of Hindutva...

The BJP has become a pseudo-secular party.

Today, the BJP is more pseudo-secular than the Congress.

If not, then they must declare that they are a Hindutva-vadi party.

The BJP president (Amit Shah) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi must declare that they will construct a Ram Mandir (in Ayodhya), that they will implement Uniform Civil Code.

And if they call themselves a Hindutva party, then they must sever the alliance with the PDP (People's Democratic Party) in Jammu and Kashmir.

The BJP has promised a Ram temple in its UP manifesto...

In India, nobody takes election manifestos seriously.

It is bakwas (rubbish).

Is a Sena alliance with Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena possible?

Zero possibility. We will not tie up with Raj Thackeray.

There is a perception that the Sena and BJP will join hands after the civic elections.

No, we will get an absolute majority in Mumbai by winning 135 seats (out of 227).

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lucknow on Dussera, 2016.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf / Rediff.com