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Sanjay Nirupam quits Sena

By Our Special Correspondent


MUMBAI, MARCH 9. Sanjay Nirupam, two-time Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP, has resigned from the party citing, among other reasons, the controversy vis--vis the BJP leader, Pramod Mahajan, and the allotment of shares in Reliance Infocomm.

Mr. Nirupam was planning to raise the issue in Parliament.

Mr. Nirupam is the first north Indian from the Sena to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1996 and again in 2001. He has left for New Delhi to tender his resignation as member of Parliament.

The party's executive president, Udhav Thackeray, is not in town for comment.A deputy leader in the Sena hierarchy, he told The Hindu that he submitted his resignation to party supremo, Bal Thackeray, on March 6 and it was accepted today.

"I resigned because I had differences with my leader. The party pressured me to give a statement in support of the BJP leader, Pramod Mahajan, saying he had nothing to do with the ongoing controversy regarding the allotment of shares in Reliance Infocomm. I refused to do that and once I showed no inclination to support the leader's orders, I had to resign," Mr. Nirupam said. He denied he was asked to resign. He said he had submitted his resignation of his own accord.

Mr. Nirupam lost the Lok Sabha election last year from the Mumbai North west constituency to Sunil Dutt.

Considered the north Indian face in the party, which makes no bones about its attitude towards what it describes as "outsiders,"his resignation letter also talks of the Sena's stand on non-Maharashtrians. The Sena's relations with the north Indian community suffered after Shiv Sainiks attacked several of those who had come from Bihar for the railway recruitment examinations last year.

In his resignation letter, Mr. Nirupam said Mr. Thackeray and his son, Udhav, had given him an order last week which he could not obey, perhaps for the first time in 12 years. He said he was always asked to apologise whenever he took a stand against corruption which he could not do this time.

He also had certain fundamental differences with the party.

On the one hand, the party talked of Hindutva and, on the other, it hated the people from "outside" Mumbai. He said Mumbai was the capital of Maharashtra and it was wrong to decide who could come into and go out of the city. He too used to spread this party line. However, the last two elections had shown that Mumbaikars disagreed with this idea. The other issue was the regularisation of slums up to 1995. The Congress manifesto promised houses to those who had settled in Mumbai till 2000 and though it went back on its promise, it won them the elections.

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