MNS Has Leased Its Engine to 'Religious Hate Express', Says Congress After Raj Thackeray's Pro-CAA Rally

File photo of MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

File photo of MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

Addressing a rally, MNS chief Raj Thackeray warned of giving a "befitting reply" to rallies being held against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed India-wide National Register of Citizens.

Mumbai: Hours after MNS chief Raj Thackeray demanded strict implementation of the new citizenship law, and the eviction of “illegal Pakistani and Bangladeshi infiltrators”, the ruling Congress in Maharashtra accused him of doing the BJP's bidding.

Addressing a rally of his party here earlier in the day, Thackeray warned of giving a "befitting reply" to rallies being held against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed India-wide National Register of Citizens.

"The MNS has leased out its engine (the party's poll symbol) for the BJP's 'Religious Hate Express", but it will fail here," said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.

Criticising the MNS, Sawant said people give a "zero importance" to those who play roles depending upon a personal gain or loss. "Their roles, flags and language change on consideration of politics as businesses (sic)," said Sawant.

Extending his support to the new citizenship law and the proposed NRC, Thackeray had said, “Today, anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests were given a befitting reply with this protest rally of the MNS. But let me warn you, next time morchas will be answered with morchas. And if you continue with your drama, stones will be answered with stones and swords with swords," he said.

In the afternoon, the MNS took out a huge march from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, demanding eviction of illegal Pakistani and Bangladeshi “infiltrators”.

After starting from his home in Dadar's Shivaji Park, Thackeray, wearing a saffron armband, visited famous Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi, accompanied by his wife Sharmila and son Amit.

He joined the "mahamorcha" (mega march) on foot from Hindu Gymkhana and walked till Metro Junction, which is about 1 km apart, before asked by police officers to travel further in his car because of a huge crowd.

Thackeray, who had ran a vigorous campaign against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha polls last year, had earlier defended the CAA and NRC.

"I don't understand why Muslims are protesting against the CAA and the NRC. Who was going to evict those who are living in India since their birth?" he asked. "...To whom are you (anti-CAA and anti-NRC protesters) trying to show your power, and why?" he said.

Thackeray blamed the ongoing protests against the CAA and the NRC on the "lack of proper understanding" of the issues.

"The CAA gives citizenship to those Hindus who have faced religious atrocities in neighbouring countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and migrated to India)," he said. "..Do these people (illegal immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh) consider my county a 'dharmashala' (charity shelter)?" Thackeray questioned while speaking on the NRC.

He also wondered whether the Union government enacted the CAA and has proposed the NRC as a "ploy to divert the attention of people from the poor financial situation prevailing in the country".

In his speech, Thackeray appealed to the Central government to give a "free hand to the police for 48 hours to evict infiltrators from Mumbai, as it is useless to ask the state government".

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