India’s ruling Congress party and main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have found themselves on a common platform after Gandhi family scion Rahul Gandhi slammed the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for their tirade against ‘outsiders’ – mainly north Indians – in Maharashtra.
Earlier, BJP president Nitin Gadkari invoked the constitutional right of every Indian to live anywhere, in a snub to erstwhile political ally Shiv Sena, whose agenda is to promote the interest of Marathis, sometimes with violent effect at the cost of non-Marathis, especially those living in Mumbai.
Waving the politics of regionalism is nothing new for the Sena and its breakaway faction MNS, who derive their political base from the ‘sons of the soil’ ideology.
And so far, they have mostly gotten away without being prosecuted for their agitations ranging from destroying public property to beating up non-natives in the streets of cosmopolitan Mumbai.
The state’s ruling Congress-NCP government has also been accused in the past of allowing MNS to have a free run in Mumbai because of political expediency – as a counter to the Shiv Sena.