Mumbai, May 5 IANS | 8 months ago

The Shiv Sena Monday made yet another attempt to mollify the Gujarati community which had been targeted in a sharp editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana May 1.

In a signed statement here, the party's youth wing chief Aditya Thackeray said "we seek or make no difference between us (Marathis) and the Gujarati community of Mumbai and neither endorse such views by anyone as those of the party or the leadership."

"This is our view and we don't endorse the words of the (Saamana) editorial of May 1," Aditya declared, barely a couple of days after his father and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray disowned the controversial edit. Earlier, senior leader Subhash Desai also did the same.

Lamenting the unnecessary controversy as an attempt to "sabotage the bond between the Shiv Sena and the Gujarati community," Aditya said Gujaratis have been close to the heart of the party founder, the late Bal Thackeray and all others in the party.

"Always be it helping or supporting each other in times of need or prospering and feeling safe under the Shiv Sena-BJP government from 1995 to 1999. We too have made our effort, when needed such as in times of the (Jan 26, 2001) Bhuj earthquake or the Narmada Dam project," Aditya recalled.

He made it clear that the party considers Gujaratis as "fellow Mumbaikars" with no differences -- "I assure you, there was, is and will be no change in the good bond built over the years between us," Aditya added.

"This very unity, seen strongly and the love felt by me personally in the Lok Sabha election, be it South Mumbai, South Central or North West Mumbai, be it Thane or Kalyan, has ached many leading to sabotaging this unity," he said.

Hoping to put the controversy to rest, Aditya further said the Gujarati community gave the party unconditional support to raise Maharashtra's voice in Delhi and their concerns would be equally strongly voiced by the party.

Aditya's statement came after Saamana asked in an editorial whether the Gujaratis, who support BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, would rally behind the Shiv Sena-led Grand Alliance in the 2014 state elections.

The editorial went to the extent of alleging the Gujaratis and other non-Marathi businessmen have extracted a lot from Mumbai, virtually using it like an "attractive prostitute" to construct their own Dwarkas (cities of gold).

It said the Gujaratis have no love for the city, which gave them so much. They were now deciding which government should come to power in Delhi and who should be kept out on the basis of their wealth.

The editorial asked the Gujaratis whether they were prepared "to give back to the state" from where they have earned so much wealth and fame, and wondered if the community would support the Shiv Sena in the assembly elections.

Following the negative fallout of the editorial, embarrassed top leaders like Desai and Uddhav quickly distanced themselves from it.

(Posted on 05-05-2014)

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