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Mumbai: Former union minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar today rejected suggestions that the Shiv Sena had poached MNS corporators and maintained that it is the BJP which engages in politics of engineering defections.

Yesterday, six of the seven corporators of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) joined the Shiv Sena, giving the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, which rules the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, an edge over the ally BJP.

"It would not be fair to say that the Shiv Sena has poached (MNS corporators). The BJP is known for playing politics (of poaching)...they did the same in Pune, Pimpri- Chinchwad. The Sena gave them a reply in the language they understand. I will not say much, but the BJP has sowed what it reaped," Pawar said.

He was talking to reporters here after meeting around 35 people against whom summonses have been issued by police for speaking against the state government on social media.

The former chief minister said like others, young people, too, have the constitutional right to express themselves, but are now being harassed amid growing intolerance in the country.

"Youngsters who write on social media are neither related to any political party nor follow a particular ideology. They only want to uphold democratic values. It is every individual's right to express himself. However, today, when intolerance is rising, they are being troubled for airing their views."

The Maratha strongman said youngsters are being issued summonses by the cyber cell (of the Mumbai police) and threatened with dire consequences for their social media comments deemed critical of the government.

"I will myself speak to the chief minister about this issue...All this is being done at the behest of an OSD posted in the Chief Minister's Office. The chief minister should look into what is being done by his people," Pawar added.

The NCP stands firmly behind all these youngsters and will provide them help through legal experts, he said.

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