Mumbai - Stoking a controversy, Indian extremist organisation Shiv Sena on Sunday demanded that voting rights of Muslims should be revoked as the community has often been used to play vote bank politics, reported Indian media.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut stirred the controversy through his article in party’s mouthpiece, Samna, in which he has written that Muslims’ voting rights should be withdrawn for some years to ensure the community is not used for vote bank politics.

Raut compared All India Majlis-e-Ittihadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leaders Asaduddin and Akbaruddin Owaisi to “poisonous snakes” who “exploit” the Muslim minority.

The Rajya Sabha member endorsed a call by late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, popularly known as Balasaheb, to revoke the voting rights of Muslims.

“If Muslims are only being used this way to play politics, then they can never develop. Muslims will have no future till they are used to play vote bank politics and thus Balasaheb had demanded that the voting rights of Muslims should be taken away. What he said is right,” Raut wrote.

Raut reiterated in the article: “Balasaheb had said 15 years ago that if the voting rights of Muslims are taken away for a few years, then the vote bank politics will stop.”

He added: “Vote bank politics is being played in the name of fighting against the injustice meted out to Muslims. Their educational and health status is being used politically. This politics was once played by the Congress and now every other person calls himself secular.”

The “secular masks” of so-called secular political parties will be gone once the voting rights of Muslims are withdrawn, he said.

Raut claimed that earlier the Imam of Jama Masjid had assumed the right to guide Muslim votes but now the Owaisis had taken on this role. This, he added, should be an “alarm bell” for Muslims.

He referred to AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi as “Owaisi bhai from Hyderabad” and said: “By saving the hiding place of snakes, you cannot kill them. Owaisi and his party are like a snake which, if fed, will do no good to the nation. AIMIM is an old snake.”

He also responded to an attack on the Shiv Sena by Akbaruddin Owaisi, who had, during a rally in Mumbai earlier this week, dared Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to come to Hyderabad, a stronghold of the AIMIM.

Raut said, “Owaisi dares us to come to Hyderabad. But we want to ask him if Hyderabad is in India or in Lahore, Karachi or Peshawar. The pride of Marathis is known in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kandahar as well.”

As the opposition criticised Raut’s comments, the Shiv Sena sought to downplay the issue by saying it was only opposed to “appeasement politics”.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi opposed the stand taken by Raut and said, “It is disgusting to hear such remarks...We are living in a democratic country, not in any Talibani state.”