Mumbai(Web team): Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut refuses to leave his controversial remarks alone, even though, ironically, he understands that the issue, in his own words, "has been subject to overkill." While he tried a shoddy backflip the day after he said that voting rights of Muslims be revoked last week, he dredged up the matter yet again on Sunday in his weekly column in Sena mouthpiece Saamana.
Voting rights of Muslims be revoked: Sanjay Raut defending
"The issue of voting rights for Muslims in the country has been subject to overkill. Many have seen their masks slip off. The subterfuge of many who call themselves secular has been exposed," said Raut, executive editor of the mouthpiece.
He said that while rights of minorities must be protected, this must not be done at the cost of the interests of the majority, and questioned the media's silence on inflammatory statements by Muslim leaders.
"No one will say with conviction that the voting rights of Muslims must be removed," said Raut, adding that the media had not criticised inflammatory statements by Zakir Naik, Azam Khan, Mehbooba Mufti, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal and the Owaisis.
"The voting rights of Muslims are the bread and butter of all political parties in this country. But the issue of bread and butter of Muslims is not solved because of this," he added. "If Muslims are to decide the future of the country, then don't the opinions of 80 crore Hindus matter? The politics of the country is centred around this 14 crore (Muslims). This goes against the Constitution. The rights of minority communities must be protected, but how can this be done while sacrificing the sentiments and voting rights of the majority community?" said Raut.
He also quoted a letter from a Muslim reader in Parbhani district who had written to him, blaming the media for selectively quoting from his last week's column while neglecting its drift, namely, the neglect of Muslims by so-called secular parties.
"How can the sentiment that the Muslim vote-bank politics in the country must be finished be against the Constitution?" said Raut, adding that while fatwas were issued by religious leaders asking Muslims and Christians to vote in a particular manner, but a similar expression of political opinion by the Sankaracharya led to him being put in the dock. He also questioned if the voting rights of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced out of the Valley, were not as important as Muslims.
"All feel that the the Muslim vote bank has spoilt the country; the creation of the country was not for protecting the interests of this vote bank," said Raut, adding that deceased Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray had made a reference to disenfranchising Muslims to expose pseudo-secularists.
He also said Muslims had played a role in the country's Independence movement. Raut took a swipe at AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi who, in an interview to dna last week, had questioned if the Shiv Sena also wanted union minister Najma Heptullah and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to lose their voting rights. Referring to the statement, Raut said that the two leaders were in the cabinet "as the true representatives of nationalist Muslims."
He claimed that thousands of Muslims had voted for the Shiv Sena in the Bandra East assembly by-polls without falling prey to the "poisonous campaign of Owaisi." Raut also asked the secularists about their stand on: emancipation of women, praise for Owaisi while reformers like Hamid Dalwai were opposed tooth and nail, non-implementation of the uniform civil code due to vote bank politics, and opposition to family planning.