Shiv Sena seeking Maharashtra Governor's recall after "turned secular" row
Shiv Sena, taunted by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for turning "secular," is seeking his removal and might approach President Ram Nath Kovind, News18 reported on Wednesday. Recently, Koshyari shot off a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray batting for re-opening of religious places, shut due to coronavirus outbreak. The ruling party will take a decision about the next steps after speaking to allies.
Letter sparked new political controversy in Maharashtra
Koshyari, an RSS veteran, on Monday wrote an unusual letter to Thackeray. He batted for re-opening places of worship with appropriate guidelines and reminded Thackeray of his Hindu vote-base. "You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as Chief Minister," he said. Koshyari added while bars have re-opened, deities are locked down and that is "most unfortunate."
"Have you become secular, a term you hated?"
"I wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the re-opening of places of worship time and again or have you turned 'secular' yourselves, a term you hated?" Koshyari wrote. The letter evidently triggered a debate.
My Hindutva doesn't need your certificate: Thackeray to Koshyari
The Sena boss hit back with a snarky letter on Tuesday. "What you mentioned about my Hindutva in the letter is absolutely correct. But my Hindutva does not need your certificate," he wrote. Thackeray also said it was perhaps the Governor who was getting divine premonitions as he "is not that big." "Is reopening temples not secular and keeping them closed secular?" Thackeray asked.
Thackeray reminded secularism is core part of our Constitution
"Why should you ask such a question? Secularism is the core part of the Constitution based on which you took oath as Governor. Don't you agree with it?" Thackeray's letter, penned in Marathi, read.
Earlier, Thackeray announced state won't be opening "doors for coronavirus"
The back-and-forth statements between Koshyari and Thackeray found its origins in the latter's Sunday address, where he said, "Navratri, Diwali and other religious festivals are coming up. We are slowly opening our doors for prosperity and good health but not for the coronavirus." The government is against re-opening religious places, fearing a rise in coronavirus cases. Maharashtra is India's worst-affected state with 1,543,837 cases.
Maharashtra eased restrictions thrice on courts' orders
To note, on three occasions, the Maharashtra state government allowed limited religious gatherings. On orders of the Bombay High Court, it let the Parsi community pray for the dead at Doongerwadi; permitted nine-day prayers at three Jain temples on Supreme Court's directions, and also allowed a tazia procession of five participants on Muharram. In fact, Koshyari also told Thackeray about other states re-opening religious places.
Sena ally NCP supported Thackeray, Pawar wrote to PM Modi
As the row raged on, veteran politician and NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the letter unsettled him. Asserting that though he respects that Koshyari can have differing opinions, he added, "I am shocked and surprised to see the letter of the Governor released to the media and the kind of language used in the letter."
Pawar welcomed Thackeray's decision to release letter to press
"Looking at the turn of events, the Chief Minister, in fact, was left with no option but to release his reply to the Hon. Governor in the press. I fully endorse the decision of the Hon. Chief Minister on this issue," Pawar said.
Jumping into controversy, BJP said letter's language is not appropriate
While Koshyari was questioned, opposition BJP trained guns at Thackeray. Former CM Devendra Fadnavis said that the CM didn't use appropriate language in the letter. "Governor is a constitutional position. It has certain decorum. Any communication has to maintain that dignity," Fadnavis said in Jalgaon. The saffron party also launched a state-wide agitation demanding that religious places are re-opened.
Amid row, shopkeepers said government's order is hurting them
Maharashtra: Shopkeepers outside Shirdi Sai Baba Temple say they are incurring losses due to state govt's decision of not opening religious places in the state.— ANI (@ANI) October 14, 2020
A shopkeeper says, "We suffered financial loss due to COVID included lockdown now govt is adding on to our misery." pic.twitter.com/oxAMDbuTNs