Unbelievable as it may sound, but the Shiv Sena recently indeed asked Muslim pilgrims going to attend Ijtema (mass congregation) in Aurangabad to pray for the party. The party had placed a huge billboard with the message reading, “Request for dua (pray) to all brothers, who are going to attend the Ijtema.”
The billboard also had the photos of Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray prominently displayed. The party had also reportedly lifted the toll tax for the Muslim pilgrims arriving to attend the three-day Aurangabad ijtema, which concluded on 25 February. Nearly 50 lakh pilgrims had reportedly attended the event.
The party warming to Muslim event is in sharp contrast to its questionable role in communal riots against them. Bal Thackeray was widely blamed for being responsible for the anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai in 1992-93, when hundreds of people, mostly members from the minority community, were killed.
The photo of Shiv Sena wooing Muslims has gone viral on social media with many finding the party’s stand a touch ironic. Journalist Rana Ayyub wrote, “Tableeghi jamaat ijtema attended by close to 50 lac muslims in aurangabad. All welcomed by a Shiv Sena hoarding which asked them to pray for the party. Sena also waived toll tax for all vehicles headed to the ijtema. we lived to see this !”
Ayyub added, “Ironic this is the same party that coined the term Landya for muslims in the 90’s asking for the community to be wiped out during the 92 riots.”
The photo also did not go unnoticed by many other social media users, who too found the change in Shiv Sena’s stance quite bewildering.
— Arebhashmi⚡ (@ArebHashmi) February 24, 2018
Today, @BJP4India occupies Political Hindutva platform so dominantly, that Shiv Sena has decided to look for other pastures… they are wooing Muslims who they ”hated” in the past. https://t.co/5RqnwkHDeu
— Piyush Kulshreshtha (@ThinkersPad) February 26, 2018
Tableeghi Jamaat members are welcomed by Shiv Sena, the thugs who massacred hundreds of Muslims since its… https://t.co/BJDWt5HQT0
— Tanmoy Ibrahim (@La_Muckraker) February 27, 2018
Shiv Sena had recently announced that it was severing its ties with the BJP adding that the party will contest the next Lok Sabha polls without being a part of being the NDA. It has also been routinely criticising the Centre’s Narendra Modi government’s policies.
In September last year, Shiv Sena had thrown its weight behind the dissident BJP leader and former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, after the latter lashed out at Modi for his decision on demonetisation.