‘Free Kashmir’ Poster Row: Decoding Shiv Sena’s ‘Soft’ Stance

‘FREE KASHMIR’ poster agitated BJP and Congress, but the Shiv Sena does not think anything wrong with it.

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The Maharashtra government is agitated after seeing a ‘FREE KASHMIR’ poster during the protests against the JNU violence at Mumbai’s Gateway of India. The BJP and Congress have criticised it, but the Shiv Sena does not think that there is anything wrong with this.

The Shiv Sena’s stance shows a changing trend. Seeing this banner, Devendra Fadnavis questioned CM Uddhav Thackeray. He asked whether the Shiv Sena accepts this ‘FREE KASHMIR’ movement and asked why these slogans being raised and why Mumbai accepting these 'separatist movements'. Sanjay Nirupam too has asked the students to be cautious. He asked why Kashmir is being brought into the JNU issue.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that he believes that the poster is trying to speak about the lack of freedom in Kashmir and the internet blockade, nothing more. It's interesting to see Shiv Sena and Sanjay Raut’s stand on this because they welcomed the abrogation of Section 370. They said that it was Balasaheb’s dream come true. They even celebrated outside their office, but the same Shiv Sena is now condemning the blockades and restrictions in Kashmir. Uddhav Thackeray in a press conference said that the JNU violence reminds him of the 26/11 attack. He also compared the Jamia Millia Islamia scuffle to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The Shiv Sena has always managed to break through whenever the BJP has tried to fortify the party on national issues. There was commotion in Maharashtra after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that he is not Rahul 'Savarkar'. The BJP again tried to needle the Shiv Sena, but the Shiv Sena replied that the BJP must not try to teach them how to respect Savarkar.

The Shiv Sena did not mind including the word ‘secular’ when releasing their manifesto after forming a government with Congress and NCP. Does this mean that Shiv Sena is keeping away from the BJP’S radical nationalism?

Young leader Aaditya Thackeray is the mastermind behind this all. He thinks that the youth of the country does not appreciate radical nationalism and so the Shiv Sena’s impression of extremism needs a makeover. The Shiv Sena's stance on the ‘FREE KASHMIR’ poster shows that law and order can be maintained if one keeps people’s sentiments in mind – compare this to Delhi and UP.

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