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'Sena not against Biharis but Bihari politicians'

Mar 05, 2008 09:20 PM IST Politics Politics

Mumbai: When it comes to making inflammatory comments against North Indians, there is little to choose between the two Thackerays – uncle Balasaheb and nephew Raj. If Raj says "North Indians living in Mumbai care only for their respective states", Balasaheb has now gone one step further and just stopped short of calling Bihari politicians criminals. It has put Saamna's Executive Editor and a party MP in the hot seat, trying to defend the lines carried in Wednesday's editorial. "We are not against Biharis, but against politicians who have ruined Bihar," explained the party mouthpiece’s Executive Editor, Sanjay Raut. But the damage has already been done and even as the Shiv Sena was walking a tight rope between Hindutva and the Marathi manoos agenda, prominent politicians from Bihar jumped into the fray. While some exercised restraint, some felt Thackeray needed a bit of tit-for-tat. "Mumbai belongs to everybody. If somebody wants to threaten us, we will send more people there,” said Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was equally vociferous. "I will request the PM to call a meeting of both the leaders of Maharashtra and Bihar on this issue,” he had said. “Biharis don't need any certificate." Back in Maharashtra, the government seems to have developed cold feet. While Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is making the right noises, there is no sign of action as was in the case of Raj Thackeray. "We will take legal advice on this issue. If required, we will also take action against Bal Thackeray," Deshmukh said. With elections in Maharashtra next year and General Elections likely later this year, it is apparent that the two Senas are engaging in political one-upmanship. Caught in this political crossfire is Mumbai's North Indian migrant and Maharashtra's reputation for being a progressive, tolerant society.