Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s statement pertaining to revoking the voting rights of Muslims has invited the ire of leaders belonging to Muslim community and opposition party Congress. In an article written in Sena mouthpiece Saamna, Raut had written that Muslim voting rights must be terminated. Muslim leaders who criticised Raut statement said that India is a secular country and every citizen of the country is entitled to cast his vote. According to them, no person should be denied voting rights just because he belongs to a particular religion. The right to vote is a statutory right.
The Congress criticised the stand taken by Shiv Sena against Muslims and demanded serious action against it.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Sanjay Raut can’t decide who can vote and who can’t exercise their franchise. He should be admitted to hospital for making comments which will mislead voters. He has not spoken anything about Hindu vote bank and only talks about Muslim vote bank. Shiv Sena is indulging in vote bank politics. Why are they trying to rename Aurangabad as Sambaji Nagar? Parties like AIMIM, Shiv Sena is only trying to polarise votes which is unconstitutional. These parties are only trying to garner power at any cost and lack proper road map for development.”
Waris Pathan, AIMIM MLA from Byculla said, “It’s a stunt by Shiv Sena to divert the mindset of voters. Will Sena revoke the voting rights of its ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dr Najma Heptulla and Dr Jaleel Parkar who had taken care of late Bal Thackeray during his illness?”
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The citizens of India have a right to cast their vote. The party can’t make a mockery of our democracy.”
Imtiaz Jaleel, former journalist, AIMIM MLA from Aurangabad Central said, “They have government in state and centre. If you have guts go and do it. The constitution has granted us right and no one can dare to snatch it from us.”
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said, “It is disgusting to hear such remarks. We are living in a democratic country, not in any Talibani state.”
“It is unconstitutional, it calls for serious action. Motive is to communalise the whole atmosphere,” Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit.
“The comments are unfortunate and against the law,” said Kamal Farooqui, member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
Shiv Sena has been feeling insecure after the rise of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) which had won 2 seats in the Maharashtra assembly election. It had also managed to prevent the party from holding rally in Pune as the party had to organise it indoor. When AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had demanded reservation for Muslims in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena had said that these demands could be fulfilled in Pakistan and asked him to try his antics there. Sena has alleged that AIMIM is trying to lure Muslim voters and doesn’t think about their empowerment.
“Balasaheb had once said to withdraw Muslims voting rights. Owaisi brothers are doing politics of Muslim votes. They are threat to the nation,” wrote Raut.
When asked about his opinion in Saamana, Raut said, “Even after independence, the politics over vote-bank does not seem to end,” adding, “Country once faced partition on the basis of religion. After that, we thought things would settle and Hindu and Muslim would be one. However, that did not happen. The Muslim population continued to grow and new Muslim leaders emerged.”