In Maharashtra CM vs governor spat, Hindutva remains a central question

Thackeray questioned Governor Koshyari's Hindutva

16-Uddhav Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray during campaign rally in Mumbai. THE WEEK Picture by Amey Mansabdar (Cover option) File Image

Quoting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's speech on Vijayadashami, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray took aim at Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, questioning the latter's "Hindutva". "The RSS chief said Hindutva has been narrowed down to only observing puja rituals. Those who wear black cap like him [Koshyari] should understand this if they have brains," Thackeray said in a veiled attack on Koshyari, who had questioned Shiv Sena's Hindutva while asking for reopening places of religious worship.

Bhagwat had said at the speech that the term Hindutva has been distorted by appending a ritualistic connotation to it. "The Sangh believes the term is applicable to all 1.3 billion people in the country who call themselves the sons and daughters of Bharatvarsh. And who are proud of the heritage of their ancestors," he had said.

The spat between the CM and the governor started after Koshyari wrote a letter to Thackeray about representations received by his office demanding reopening of places of religious worship, shut since March-end in view of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown. In his letter last week, Koshyari told Thackeray that it is "ironical that while on one hand the state government permitted opening of bars, restaurants and beaches, our gods and goddesses have been condemned to stay in the lockdown." Koshyari asked, "Have you suddenly turned secular, the term you hated?"

Thackeray said on Sunday: "I have no happiness in shutting down places. Lifting of restrictions is being done cautiously and gradually." He added, according to NDTV: "You are talking about our Hindutva. So in Maharashtra, you are putting a ban on beef, but in Goa you are okay with beef. Is this your Hindutva?"

He said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in alliance with the BJP, had once called for a "Sangh-mukt Bharat" and had also sought a 'secular face' in 2014 as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. "Has Nitish donned Hindutva robes or has BJP become secular now?" Thackeray asked. 

Thackeray said there would be anarchy in the country if the BJP remained interested only in toppling governments rather than improving the nation's economy. He dared the BJP to topple his 11-month-old government and also asked it to first protect its government at the Centre. "Instead of the 'no alternative' factor as was the case earlier, people have now started thinking that anyone will do except you," Thackeray said, without Modi. "Rather than working on improving economy, steps are taken to topple governments. We are heading towards anarchy," he said.

The chief minister slammed the BJP over its poll promise of free COVID-19 vaccine in Bihar, adding does that party think those from other states hail from Bangladesh or Kazakhstan. "You promise free COVID-19 vaccine in Bihar, then are people of other states from Bangladesh or Kazakhstan," Thackeray said. "Those speaking like that should be ashamed of themselves. You are at the Centre," he added.

-Inputs from PTI

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