Former Maharashtra chief minister, Lok Sabha speaker and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi reiterated his party's stance that Mumbai belongs to the Marathi manoos.
"Mumbai Marathi manasachich," he said in chaste Marathi at an event, 'Mumbai For All', organised by the Outlook Group in Mumbai on the occasion of its 15 years of existence.
"Mumbai belongs to Maharashtra and hence to Marathi manoos," he later translated for an audience that represented Mumbai's cosmopolitanism.
He said the issue was settled way back in 1956 when Indian states were formed on the basis of language.
However, he rued the fact that supporters of people migrating freely within India were abusing Article 19 of the Indian Constitution that grants freedom of movement and freedom to reside and settle in any part of India as a fundamental right.
"People don't read Article 19 completely. The Constitution has given us these fundamental rights but with reasonable restrictions," he said.
Later, he clarified that 'reasonable restrictions' could mean only those people may migrate to Mumbai who have a job and place to live in Mumbai.
"Because of the ongoing influx of migrants into Mumbai the Marathi manoos has become a second-class citizen," he said, pointing to the fact that the migrants, who offer cheap labour, have economically sidelined Marathis.
Interestingly, even while ruing the fact that the Marathi manoos today makes up only 30 per cent of the city that once was predominantly Marathi, Joshi acknowledged that it was because of parties like the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena that at least 30 per cent Marathis were still left in the city.
"While it is mainly because of the Shiv Sena that Marathis has been able to lead a life of asmita (respect) in Mumbai, the MNS too is doing the same thing," Joshi told rediff.com.
Asked if his acknowledgement was an overture to the estranged Thackeray cousin Raj, he refused to comment.
"I don't think so," he said tersely in reply to a question if the two parties could ever come together to safeguard the interests of the Marathi manoos.