New Delhi: Raj Thackeray's comments threatening to brand Biharis as "infiltrators" have fuelled a controversy with leaders from various political parties slamming the MNS chief over the issue.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said the Thackeray family itself belonged to Bihar and had settled in Dhar in Western Madhya Pradesh from where they migrated to Mumbai.
"If you look at the history of Mumbai, then it is a city of fishermen. Rest all have settled there from outside," Singh said.
Thackeray had yesterday threatened to force Biharis out of Maharashtra if authorities in Bihar take legal action against Mumbai policemen who picked up a teenager from there without informing their counterparts in that state.
Thackeray, whose party has often launched violent campaigns against Hindi-speaking people in Maharashtra, was reacting to reports that Bihar chief secretary Navin Kumar has written to Mumbai police commissioner voicing displeasure over the arrest of the youth for vandalising the martyr's memorial during Azad Maidan protest on 11 August.
Shivanand Tiwari, a senior leader of the ruling JD-U in Bihar, hit out at Congress over the issue suggesting that the ruling party at the Centre and in Maharashtra is propping up Thackeray and drew parallels with the rise of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in Punjab during the terror days there.
"This (the conduct of Raj Thackeray) is a challenge to the Constitutional authority. Thackeray says in Azad Maidan of Mumbai that the police commissioner should be transferred and it is done soon after. Does the Congress-led government in Maharashtra giving an impression that Thackeray bigger than the government there?" he said.
"I will request the Congress at the Centre as well as the Congress-led government in the state to learn from their experiences in Punjab, where they propped up Bhindranwale. They are creating extra constitutional authorities and strengthening them. A time will come the same forces will destroy them like the demon Bhasmasur," Tewari said.
BJP leader and a minister in the state government Giriraj Singh was vocal in his criticism of Thackeray and demanded a case of "treason" against the MNS chief.
"This is against democracy. A case of treason should be filed against Thackeray. I also appeal to Anna Hazare, who belongs to Maharashtra that he should also raise his voice against Thackeray," he said daring him to come to Bihar.
BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also disapproved of the MNS chief's remarks, saying there is a "need to desist from confrontation" while working in political and social fields.
Naqvi said that no discrimination in the name of region or religion can be made due to acts of some "terrorists" and that there is only a "Hindustani belt" across the length and breath of the nation.
Thackeray had said, "If the Bihar government tries to become a hurdle in the way of a police investigation, then my party would dub every Bihari in Maharashtra as an infiltrator and would force them to leave the state."
"The person who desecrated the Amar Jawan memorial was arrested from Bihar. I would like to tell the Bihar chief secretary that because of your state, the crime rate (in Maharashtra) has gone up," he said.
Abdul Qadir Mohammed Younus Ansari (19) was picked up by Mumbai Crime Branch on Monday from Sitamarhi in Bihar for allegedly vandalising the Amar Jawan Memorial near Azad Maidan during 11 August rioting during a protest against alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar.
Two protesters were killed and over 50 injured, mostly policemen and those from the media.