Aurangabad: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday hit out at his detractors and said it was better to be dubbed as “agents” of PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who had nullified Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, than being sympathetic to Yakub Memon, executed in 2015 for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

Addressing a rally at Paithan in central Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district, Shinde attacked the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena by claiming it was better to be an “agent” of those people who were pursuing the dream of party founder Bal Thackeray.

The Shiv Sena faction led by its president Uddhav Thackeray and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been engaged in a war of words over the “beautification” of the grave of Memon in a cemetery in Mumbai.

The BJP, an ally of the Sena faction led by Shinde, has claimed the “beautification” of the grave of Memon happened during the tenure of the erstwhile Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government (November 2019-June 2022) and has sought an apology from the former CM.

“It should be checked during whose tenure the beautification of Yakub Memon’s grave took place. It is being alleged we are working as agents of PM Modi and Amit Shah. It is better to be an agent of those people who pursued the dream of Balasaheb Thackeray and revoked Article 370 (which provided special status to J&K) than being an agent of Yakub Memon,” Shinde said.

He rubbished an article in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ about the BJP working to “finish Marathi people from Mumbai”. “It is being alleged the BJP is using us to finish Marathis from Mumbai. ‘Saamana’, which printed this, must also publish an analysis on why Marathi-speaking people went out of Mumbai,” the CM said.

The Sena had sought votes in the 2019 Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP and it was time to introspect who “cheated” the Hindutva ideology and electors, he added. After the 2019 Assembly elections, the Sena had snapped ties with its pre-poll ally BJP and joined hands with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the MVA government. Shinde, during his visit, offered prayers at the renowned Sant Eknath Temple in Paithan.

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