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MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said his party-led government at the Centre was facing a "perception war" from NCP chief Sharad Pawar on CAA and this will have to be countered by taking the political fight to the streets.
The Narendra Modi government is facing protests nationwide over its Citizenship Amendment Act which aims to give persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh citizenship but excludes Muslims.
Speaking on the second day of the 2-day state level convention held in Nerul in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, Fadnavis said, "NCP chief Sharad Pawar is playing a perception war against the BJP-led Union government, deliberately creating confusion over CAA. A disinformation that citizenship (of certain communities) will be taken away by CAA is being spread."
Pawar has called the CAA "divisive" and "diversionary" and has been vocal in his support to a plethora of national leaders who have said that they would continue to oppose the legislation till it is scrapped by the Centre.
Fadnavis said the strategy of parties opposed to the CAA was "if you cannot convince them, then confuse them".
"The opposition should either prove that CAA is going to affect the poor and nomadic tribes in Maharashtra or they should apologise to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their false claims," Fadnavis said.
He said the BJP would contest polls on its own from hereon and claimed the party's first success with this decision will be upcoming Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation polls.
Lashing out at former ally Shiv Sena, which parted ways after the October Assembly polls and joined hands with the Congress and Pawar's NCP, Fadnavis said "Congress leaders will continue insulting V D Savarkar" and asked "how long is the Sena leadership going to tolerate it".
"If there is some courage left in the Shiv Sena, it should ban Shidori magazine published by the Congress," he dared the Uddhav Thackeray government.
Shidori had recently published two articles terming Hindutva icon Savarkar as an "apologist" and "rapist".
"How can the Sena tolerate such comments against its ideologue," Fadnavis asked.
Hitting out at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for throwing a challenge to the BJP to topple his government, Fadnavis said, "Instead of challenging us, the Sena should dissolve the government and face fresh elections. The people of Maharashtra will show the Sena its place."
Speaking at an agricultural awards function in Jalgaon on Saturday, Thackeray had said, "I am the son of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who accepted and threw challenges.
I challenge the BJP to topple my government today itself instead of waiting till April when operation lotus is likely to be activated (by the BJP).