Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Monday met retired Navy officer Madan Sharma who was assaulted allegedly by Shiv Sena workers on Saturday and said forwarding a cartoon is not wrong.
"Shiv Sena formed the government in Maharashtra with the help of the Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Raut went to Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar with folded hands to request for their support as they didn't want to see a BJP Chief Minister in the state. The cartoon was forwarded to honour Shiv Sena and Uddhav Thackeray," alleged Athawale.
The union minister also said that there is no basis to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's terming Madan Sharma's act of forwarding the message as misuse of the freedom of expression adding that forwarding any post is not wrong.
Athawale met Sharma at the latter's residence in Mumbai.
When asked about his opinion on Shiv Sena mouthpiece editorial that said Mumbai belongs to people of Maharashtra, the Union Minister said that although he agrees Mumbai belongs to Maharashtrians before everyone else, as it is the state capital, it equally belongs to people across the country.
"Shiv Sena is right that Maharashtra has the first ownership over Mumbai because it is the state capital, but it also belongs to the entire nation as it gives employment to people from across the country. Everyone who lives in Mumbai is Mumbaikar. Even Kangana Ranaut calls herself a Mumbaikar. Madan Sharma also calls himself Mumbaikar," he said.
He further said that actor Kangana Ranaut had told him that she's is going to learn Marathi.
Sharma who demanded the resignation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday told media that the cartoon that he forwarded was made by an artist Uday Maheshwari.
"In the cartoon a man is was showing respect to Sonia Gandhi by calling her mother (Matru Shree) and Sharad Pawar his father (Pitru Shree). I liked it. It was made by the artist Uday Maheshwari. If somebody has a problem with the cartoon, they should complain about it to the artist and not me," said Sharma.
He added that artist should be praised for his creativity.
Shiv Sena leader Kamlesh Kadam and five others were arrested by the Mumbai police after an FIR was registered in connection with alleged assault of retired Navy officer in Mumbai.
They were later released on bail.