Why selective freedom of expression on JNU? asks Sena

Why selective freedom of expression on JNU violence, Shivaji book? asks Sena

"When a hardly known BJP worker publishes a book, the BJP defends him on the grounds of freedom of expression, but it conveniently forgets the same principle in the case of students of the JNU who are fighting for the same," the Sena said.

The Shiv Sena on Wednesday questioned its former ally BJP's "separate yardsticks" of "freedom of expression" on the JNU violence and the controversial book comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

In an editorial in the party's Marathi mouthpiece "Saamana", the ruling party demanded that Union Home Ministry issue orders to file cases against those who make derogatory comments on Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar and demanded Bharat Ratna for him.

The book "Aaj Ke Shivaji, Narendra Modi", written by Delhi BJP leader Jay Bhagwan Goyal, has triggered a political storm in Maharashtra, where the 17th Century founder of the Maratha empire is a revered historical figure.

"When a hardly known BJP worker publishes a book, the BJP defends him on the grounds of freedom of expression, but it conveniently forgets the same principle in the case of students of the JNU who are fighting for the same," the Sena said.

After the January 5 attack on JNU students, the Sena had said that what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah wanted was happening.

The Sena, which has demanded that the book be banned, wondered why the BJP has not yet expelled Goyal from the party.

"We want this issue to be settled at once but the author of the book seems to be firm on rewriting it, which clearly means the issue is still not over," the Sena said.

It said Union minister Prakash Javadekar of BJP twitted about withdrawal of the controversial book from circulation only after the controversy started gaining ground.

The Sena also raked up its old demand for conferring Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in India, for Savarkar.

"Savarkar should be conferred with Bharat Ratna immediately. His name should also be included in the list of national leaders," it said.

Accusing the BJP of doing only lip service to the cause of upholding Savarkar's legacy, the Sena asked whether the Union Home Ministry will issue orders to file cases against those who spread derogatory information against the Independence activist.

The Sena, which heads the coalition government in Maharashtra with the NCP and Congress, also justified the "Janata Raja' epithet for NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

The honorific has been traditionally used to describe Chhatrapati Shivaji and his compassion for the people.

Apart from senior Maharashtra BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar, Chhatrapati Shivaji's direct descendant Udayanraje Bhosale, also a BJP leader, had raised objection over attaching the 'Janata Raja' title to anybody else other than the 17th Century founder of the Maratha empire.

"Sharad Pawar is called so ('janata raja') because he understands issues and emotions of Maharashtra. This has been accepted even by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He will answer Mungantiwar's query on Pawar," the Sena said.

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