MNS chief Raj Thackeray said that the contributions of Muslims cannot be ignored, while addressing the crowd at Thursday's mega-rally in Mumbai. He gave credit to the 'Missile Man of India' - the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, veteran lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar and also paid homage to India's World Cup-winning pacer Zaheer Khan, for their outstanding contributions in the field of science, art and sports respectively, at an event that was billed as the herald of a renewed push by the party to claim the Hindutva legacy of Balasaheb Thackeray. Jan 23 is the birth anniversary of the late Shiv Sena supremo.
''Whichever Muslim is important to nation, they are ours. We cannot turn our backs on APJ Abdul Kalam, we cannot say no to Zaheer Khan, we cannot turn our back on someone like Javed Akhtar'', said Raj Thackeray.
With 610 international wickets, Zaheer finished as one of India's most successful bowlers, being the fourth-highest wicket-taker for India across formats. Though Zaheer played only a few international matches in the last years of his career after being dogged by injuries in May 2014, he managed to play seven games in IPL 2015.
Zaheer finished his Test career with an average of 32.94 and an ODI career with 282 wickets at 29.43. After his international debut in 2000, his most prominent performance in Tests came on the England tour of 2007 when he finished with 18 wickets at an average of 20.33. 'Zak' has represented India in three World Cups- 2003, 2007 and 2011 respectively. He has a World Cup winner's medal as well as a runners-up medal.
The Men In Blue had a dismal campaign in 2007 where they had crashed out in the group stage after a shocking loss to Bangladesh and then at the hands of the eventual runners-up Sri Lanka.
Khan's first over in 2003 final was a forgettable one as he gave away 15 runs. India lost the match by a huge margin of 125 runs. Eight years later, he spearheaded the Indian bowling and started off with a maiden in his very first over. The Men In Blue created history as they won their second World Cup after a long wait of 28 years and became the first nation to win the World Cup on home soil. Zaheer Khan finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker of that tournament with 21 wickets along with Shahid Afridi.
Listen to Raj Thackeray's entire speech here: