‘You can’t stand against the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra’

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Shiv Sena spokesperson and Saamna Editor Sanjay Raut tells Rana Ayyub where his party stands on James Laine’s book, FM radio channels and Belgaum

Photo: Deepak Salvi

The NCP-Congress seem to have stolen your thunder by banning James Laine’s book on Shivaji in Maharashtra.
The NCP-Congress is playing politics over the issue. Shivaji was not a politician, he was a son of the soil who got freedom for Maharashtra. The book hurts the sentiments of Maharashtrians who consider Shivaji their hero. The NCP-Congress coalition seems to be forgetting that it is they who need to be blamed for the Supreme Court upholding the Bombay High Court judgment on the book. RR Patil (state home minister) had, during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections promised that he will not allow the book to enter Maharashtra. Why then didn’t the state home and law ministers battle the issue in court? Why didn’t they have a panel of lawyers to represent the case and see that the ban is not lifted? They wanted the ban to be lifted by the Supreme Court so that they could play politics over the issue.

The state is mulling a law that stops defamation of icons and is also seeking amendments to the IPC.
First they allow our icons to be defamed and then they talk about introducing laws to stop defamation. The rumours about CM Ashok Chavan forming a committee to look into this is a joke. We won’t let them get away so easily. They are trying to divert attention from important issues like Belgaum and price rise.

The Shiv Sena seems to be losing its popularity in Maharashtra. Be it on the book, or the border issue with Karnataka, it seems that the Sena is unable to provide a clear vision.
The Maharashtra-Karnataka border controversy has always been a Shiv Sena issue and we have stalled Assembly proceedings on this many a time. Since 1969, Maharashtra has lost 185 Marathi manoos over the issue. We have led agitations for the last three decades. Our problem is not with Karnataka. Our problem is with the Centre’s laws on the border issue, and its inability to resolve it. If the DMK can fight for Tamils, then why can’t the Shiv Sena, which is as old as the DMK, do the same. Even Sharad Pawar was a part of the agitation that started in the late 1960s over Belgaum.

Does the Shiv Sena expect one time friend Sharad Pawar to interfere in the controversy surrounding the James Laine book?
We don’t expect anything from Sharad Pawar anymore. He seems to have forgotten his roots. The NCP has no existence without Maharashtra and Maharashtrians.

Now that the ban on the book has been lied by the Supreme Court, would you still not allow the sale of the book?
Oxford [University Press] has issued a written statement that it will not reprint the book. However, if it still goes ahead and prints the book and if we come across a single copy in the state, we shall show them that the Shiv Sena is still alive in Maharashtra. We will not allow them to get away with it at any cost. The Sainik will come out on the streets again if required.

Shiv Sena’s attitude appears dictatorial. You have asked local FM channels to play Marathi songs or face your wrath.
Absolutely. We have given the FM channels an eight-day deadline. These FM channels aren’t entertainers; they are business ventures. They call themselves cosmopolitan and do not play Marathi songs, but play Gujarati and Tamil songs. Some, though, have started playing Marathi songs after our diktat. If the rest do not, we shall ensure that they do not forget that they are still in Maharashtra. You can’t be in Maharashtra and stand against the Shiv Sena.

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