Not against Muslims, only target Pakistan: Uddhav

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being presented a memento during an election campaign rally in support of the BJP-Sena candidate Rahul Patil ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly polls, in Parbhani, on Sunday. PTI

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday declared that his party was against Pakistan and not Indian Muslims as he campaigned for Abdul Sattar, who quit the Congress to join the regional outfit known for its strident stand on Hindutva. 

"Are we against Muslims? Had it been so, would Abdulbhai have joined us," Thackeray said while addressing a massive rally here.

Sattar, who was elected as a Congress candidate, quit the party to join the Shiv Sena last month. Sattar is considered close to Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who joined the BJP after the Lok Sabha elections and was inducted as a minister in the state cabinet.

"We respect all religions. Our enmity is only with Pakistan," Thackeray said in a bid to reach out to the 69,000 Muslim voters in the constituency that has nearly three lakh registered voters.

"If Pakistan bombs India, will it discriminate between Hindu and Muslim homes. Why are we fighting amongst us when Pakistan is gearing up to destroy us," Thackeray said.

The electorate in Marathwada region of Maharashtra is divided along religious and caste lines and Shiv Sena had so far reaped benefits of polarisation in the name of religion.

Sattar's main challenger is Prabhakar Palodkar, a former BJP leader who is contesting as an Independent. A sizeable section of the  BJP in Sillod was against the candidature of Sattar, and thin attendance from the BJP rank and file at Thackeray's rally might have the Sena leadership worried.

Thackeray also trained his guns at the rebels telling them point-blank not to come in the way of the Shiv Sena. 

"We are returning to power. Will you be able to fulfil the promises of Rs 10 for a thali and basic medical tests at Rs 1, if you get elected. I warn you not to stand between the two morsels of food for the poor," he said.

"Don't worry, a tiger always wins alone. I am the son of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray and I know how to fight and win," Thackeray said.

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