Shiv Sena Parliamentarian Sanjay Raut said in an editorial published in the party's mouthpiece Saamna that Muslims will have no future if they are used as vote-banks and thus their voting rights should be revoked.
In the article, he lashed out at All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leaders – Asaduddin and Akbaruddin Owaisi -- who he alleged were "exploiting" the Muslim community and using vote-bank politics for their own benefit.
"As long as Muslim votes are for sale, the community will remain backward and its leaders will become rich", IANS quoted the Rajya Sabha MP as saying.
"Owaisi and his party are like a snake which, if fed, will do no good to the nation. AIMIM is an old snake... AIMIM is trying to show they are fighting for the rights of Muslims... It is identical to what Congress did with Muslims to get votes... But in reality, Muslims are being exploited for votes," The Indian Express cited an excerpt from the editorial.
With this, Raut reiterates founder of Shiv Sena late Bal Thackeray's demands made about 15 years ago. He said that Balasaheb wanted the same for a few years to stop vote banks politics.
"As long as this vote bank politics continues, Muslims will be away from the main stream. So Balasaheb said for social development of Muslims, they should be kept away from politics for a while," the editorial said.
Even BJP MP Sakhshi Maharaj, who had previously invoked controversy by his remarks, supported Raut's demands. "BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj supports Shiv Sena's demand to revoke voting rights for Muslims," ABP News tweeted.
Raut and the party were, however, slammed by people on Twitter and Congress for "spreading hatred".
"The Saamna thinks it lives in some Talibanised land and not in a democratic country like India. The Saamna has no place in culture like ours," Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi.
Here's what Twitterati thinks about Raut's remark
Although, Raut's remark enraged netizens who in turn lashed out at the party, it also sparked a debate on the social media platform. People were of the view that it is true that Muslims have been misguided by their leaders but taking away their fundamental rights is not a solution.
@TusharG Don't support Sena but MIM should also be stopped ruthlessly. they are misleading the whole community in the name of religion .
— Nagmani Sinha (@Sinha_Nagmani) April 13, 2015
@shahid_siddiqui Before Muslims or other fake seculars want the Shivsena to be censured for its remarks the Muslims must also disown 2/2
— Rajeevk1949 (@rajeevk1949) April 13, 2015
So a Shiv Sena MP does not want Muslims to vote. Is this the Sena's way of sabotaging the BJP? — Anahita Mukherji (@Newspaperwalli) April 13, 2015
— Atul Maurya (@m_atul) April 13, 2015
— shobhit srivastava (@tweetsshobhit) April 13, 2015
Instead of taking away voting right of muslims if shiv sena take away guns from the hands of maoist in gadchdoili then they will be praised — Dhiraj (@678f362cea3e402) April 13, 2015
#ShivSena has always attacked the non-marathis! This 'Saamna' editorial portrays their ideals best! Communalist and anti-Muslims!
— Hasmeet Kaur (@IAmPerseverant) April 13, 2015