Country's interest first for us: Bal Thackeray

Maharashtra has always put the country's interests first and abided by the Rashtra dharma (national ethos), Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said, in an apparent indication that he is not pleased with his nephew Raj Thackeray's campaign against North Indian migrants.

''Shivaji Maharaj took help of Pathans who belonged to other religion and other country in his fight against Mughal invaders,'' he said in an editorial published today in Sena mouthpiece Saamana.

''We also want to carry out the same work. Those who will come with us are our friends, our brethren. We will not think about their caste, region and religion,'' the Sena chief said.

In a veiled attack on Raj, who left the Sena in 2005, he said, ''When Shivaji Maharaj unfurled the saffron flag in Maharashtra, those who stabbed him in the back were his blood relations...his own Marathas.''

''When we proclaim the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj, it is not only to announce caste inheritance,'' the 82-year-old Sena patriarch noted.

For the last 40 years, the Shiv Sena has imbibed Hindutva, he said, adding ''now, the Hindu religion is facing invasion after invasion. At this time, reply will have to be given to this Islamic aggression through Hindutva,'' he said.

Raj launched his own outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in 2006 following differences with his cousin Uddhav, the Sena Executive President.

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