The Shiv Sena today accused the BJP of trying to appease Christians ahead of the 2019 polls by "making" party MP Gopal Shetty apologise over his purported remarks that members of the community didn't participate in the country's freedom struggle.
In an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena said the BJP has turned "secular" from a party championing the cause of Hindutva "for political gains".
A controversy had erupted last week after a video clip purportedly showed the Mumbai North MP saying that Christians were "angrez" (British) and allegedly did not participate in the freedom struggle of the country.
Shetty had reportedly offered to resign in the wake of his comments, but the BJP had persuaded him against doing so.
Recalling the death of Australian missionary Graham Staines, who was burnt alive in Odisha in 1999 allegedly by members of a right wing organisation, the Shiv Sena said the Congress had immediately sacked its then chief minister Janaki Ballabh Patnaik after the brutal killing.
"Hindutva leaders had then said Patnaik was sacked as there was pressure from the Vatican Church and because Sonia Gandhi (UPA chairperson) herself was a Catholic. But what has happened now?" questionned the Sena.
"Neither Gandhi is in power nor there a situation for the Centre to act under pressure from the Vatican. Why is then Shetty being seen as a criminal? Because this is politics. This is an experiment of the BJP to appease Christian brothers ahead of the 2019 polls," it added.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party, however, said that none should raise doubts over patriotism of members of the Christian community.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)