Sudheendra Kulkarni, Khurshid Kasuri defy Sena to bring India, Pakistan closer

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Sudheendra Kulkarni, Khurshid Kasuri defy Sena to bring India, Pakistan closer
Bharatiya Janata Party's former ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni, whose face was blackened, speaks to the media in Mumbai on Monday as Pakistan's former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri looks on.

Former BJP ideologue was organising launch of Pak ex-minister's book.

By Nithin Belle

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Published: Tue 13 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 13 Oct 2015, 9:25 AM

Mumbai: Hours after a dozen hooligans of the Shiv Sena smeared black paint on the face of former BJP activist Sudheendra Kulkarni, the party had to hastily call off its protests against the launch of a book authored by a former Pakistani foreign minister.
There was widespread outrage across India after the incident, with politicians across the spectrum, celebrities and activists slamming the Sena for its growing intolerance. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, after which the party decided to call off attempts to disrupt the event. Fadnavis also ensured adequate security at the Nehru Centre, the venue for the book launch.
After sensing 'victory' following the cancellation of a concert by Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali in Mumbai last week after it threatened to disrupt the show, the Sena - a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance governments both at the centre and in Maharashtra - vowed to disrupt the launch of a book authored by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, the former Pakistan foreign minister.
The event relating to the book - Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider's Account of Pakistan's Foreign Policy, - had been organised by Kulkarni, who had worked as an aide to both former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani. Kulkarni now heads the Observer Research Foundation. Kulkarni met Uddhav Thackeray, the Sena chief, on Sunday evening, and told him while he appreciated the Sena's right to democratically oppose the Pakistani author, it should not disrupt the function. But Thackeray was noncommittal.
On Monday morning, when Kulkarni got into his car, more than a dozen Sena activists asked him to step out. They then smeared black paint on his face. Kulkarni, who had sported the badge of an Indian flag on his jacket, said it was an attack on the nation.
Boldly defying the Sena, Kulkarni later addressed a news conference along with Kasuri, and released the book, with the black paint still on his face. "A group of Shiv Sainiks stopped my car, asked me to come out, they caught me, started abusing me," said Kulkarni. "They said we had told you to stop the launch this evening, you didn't listen to us," he alleged. "We won't be cowed down by such events and the book launch will happen as planned," added Kulkarni. Kasuri told the media that while he recognised the right of people to protest, it should be peaceful.
"Nations are made with a positive mindset, we need a positive mindset," declared Kasuri. "I am not depressed by things like these as I know there are people in Pakistan and India who do not want good relations. I have been a political worker and understand protests, but they should be peaceful."
Most political parties also condemned the Sena for its growing intolerance and the vicious attack on Kulkarni. "I strongly condemn whosoever has done this," said Advani.
"If you don't like someone or his opinion, showing intolerance is wrong. This is not good for nation. Adopting the path of violence is completely unacceptable." But Sena leaders appeared defiant and showered abuse on Kulkarni and his backers. Dubbing him "a Pakistani agent," Sanjay Raut, a Sena MP, said all those supporting Pakistan would be beaten up.
nithin@khaleejtimes.com



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