Raj is the Bhindranwale of Maharashtra: Shahnawaz Hussain (Interview)

November 3rd, 2008 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) As the Maharashtrian-north Indian row escalates with threats of resignations by Bihar MPs, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Shahnawaz Hussain has dubbed Raj Thackeray the “Bhindranwale of Maharashtra”.”The Congress had propped up Bhindranwale in Punjab to cynically counter the Akalis in the 1980s and it is now doing the same in Maharashtra to weaken the Shiv Sena,” the MP from Bhagalpur in Bihar said. The Congress would have to face the consequences of its actions, just as years ago its politics plunged Punjab and India into a crisis, he warned.

It was astonishing, Hussain said, that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi or the Congress-led government in Maharashtra were not able to do anything to control the situation.

“The trouble is that the Congress is finished in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and is getting delinked from northern India. It is no longer interested in protecting north Indians but only in saving its Maharashtra government.”

As a result, the Congress was “working like an event management company for Raj Thackeray”, said the former central minister who headed the department of civil aviation in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Hussain called for the arrest of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray under the National Security Act (NSA). He was asked if he favoured a ban on MNS as demanded by Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan.

Hussain said Raj Thackeray had to be reined in but instead of a ban, the government “should pick him up under NSA”. It should not do anything that goes to build him up but take steps to “sideline and isolate him”.

Coming to the defence of Biharis who go out of their state in large numbers to work, Hussain said: “It is not as if the Biharis are going to different places to beg. Wherever they go - in different parts of India or Guyana or Mauritius - they work hard. Nor are we asking for a share in the government or the power set up in these places.”

Appealing to Maharashtrians to take steps to end the growing divide, which he felt was assuming dangerous proportions, Hussain said much was being made of north Indians taking away the jobs of locals in Maharashtra.

“They must not forget that if a product is produced in Maharashtra, it is also being bought by north Indians. We in Bihar have never complained that our coal and bauxite have gone all over India.”

Hussain, who heads the BJP Minority Front, expressed disquiet at the growing gulf between Hindus and Muslims.

While 1947 and 1992 had seen grave communal conflicts, “never had there been such a divide in the country as was being witnessed today though it is less visible”, he said.

“As a Muslim, I want to say that those who view the whole Muslim community as terrorists are wrong. There may be one or two people who may have been led astray. It is people like (Samajwadi Party leader) Amar Singh whose politics have brought the community to this point where they are viewed with suspicion.”

He refuted the charge that BJP leader and prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani had become a ‘mukhota’ (mask) in the hands of hawks in the Sangh Parivar, the fraternity of Hindu nationalist groups led by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Singh (RSS).

Advani, he said, was “very unhappy” at the growing communal divide and had met Bishops after the anti-Christian violence in Orissa to try and mediate. “The BJP had never charged Muslim organisations with conversions, it was an allegation levelled only against the Christians for converting by offering inducements.”

Besides, said Hussain, “this is an internal affair of India. Other countries should not speak the way they are doing. Never, for instance, has Saudi Arabia summoned the Indian ambassador and complained about communal riots in India”.

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