‘Don’t need your certificate for my Hindutva': Uddhav Thackeray responds to Governor BS Koshyari over reopening religious places

In a letter to Thackeray on Monday, the Maharashtra governor had questioned the chief minister's decision to keep religious places in the state closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic

FP Staff October 13, 2020 18:12:25 IST
‘Don’t need your certificate for my Hindutva': Uddhav Thackeray responds to Governor BS Koshyari over reopening religious places

File image of Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

Responding sharply to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter over the state's decision to not open religious places in Maharashtra amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray told the governor that he did not need a “certificate” of Hindutva from him after the latter sarcastically asked him if he had turned secular.

In his letter to Thackeray on Monday, Koshyari had questioned the chief minister's decision to keep religious places in the state closed and requested him "to announce forthwith" the reopening of places of worship with COVID-19 precautions.

Responding to this letter by Koshyari, Thackeray on Tuesday wrote back to the governor, saying the state government will consider his request to reopen these places. Thackeray had also said that a decision will be taken after careful consideration of the COVID-19 situation in the state.

“You have been a strong votary of Hindutva,” Koshyari told Thackeray. “You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as the chief minister. You had visited the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi,” his letter read. 

A long time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Koshyari, in his letter also reminded the chief minister that other cities had reopened such places in June and there had been no reports of a surge in COVID-19 cases. The governor in his letter also dubbed it "ironical" that bars, restaurants, and beaches were allowed to open, but "our Gods and Goddesses have been condemned to stay in the lockdown".

The chief minister retorted that his Hindutva did not require a certificate from the governor or anyone, and that he would take a decision after careful consideration.

"You said I am getting divine premonitions? Maybe you get them but I am not so big," Thackeray wrote back to Koshyari in Marathi.

The chief minister also told Koshyari that he did not need any validation from him. “Sir, you mention Hindutva in your letter, but I do not need any certificate or any teaching on Hindutva from you,” Thackeray said.

In his letter, Koshyari had mentioned that he has received three representations from delegations demanding that places of religious worship be reopened. In response, Thackeray pointed out that it was a "coincidence" that all the three letters Koshyari mentioned were from Opposition BJP office-bearers and supporters.

Dont need your certificate for my Hindutva Uddhav Thackeray responds to Governor BS Koshyari over reopening religious places

File image of Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Twitter

In the letter, Koshyari had asked Thackeray if he had turned secular. Thackeray responded in Marathi Tuesday, saying, "Why should you have this question? Are you saying that simply opening religious places stands for Hindutva and keeping them shut is secular? So, are you not accepting that secularism is an important tenet of the Constitution by which you were sworn in as governor?”

"While considering the sentiments and beliefs of the people, it is also important to take care of their lives and it is wrong to impose and lift lockdown suddenly," Thackeray said in the letter.

Thackeray also taunted the governor for his meeting with actor Kangana Ranaut last month. “My Hindutva does not permit me to welcome home a person who called my Maharashtra or Mumbai Pakistan occupied Kashmir,” he said.

The actor had become entangled in a spat recently with the Maharashtra government after she said that Mumbai felt like Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to her and that she feared living in the city. She had also criticised the Mumbai Police for its handling of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

We don't need lessons on Hindutva, says Sanjay Raut

Reacting to Koshyari's letter to Thackeray, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday said that the governor should only see whether Maharashtra is being run as per the Constitution or not, and that there is a people-elected government in place to look after the rest of the things.

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai in the wake of Koshyari's letter to the chief minister, Raut said the Shiv Sena's Hindutva is firm and based on a strong foundation and they don't need lessons on it.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that the threat of COVID-19 still persists, Raut said in view of the health concern, it is Thackeray's responsibility to take care of people's safety, and the governor should have rather appreciated the chief minister for doing so diligently.

Referring to reports of Chinese aggression along the LAC in Ladakh, Raut said it is not for the chief ministers of states, but the President, Prime Minister, Defence Minister, or Army Chief to speak about what the Army should do in such cases.

Similarly, it is the people-elected government, chief minister, and ministerial council in Maharashtra which will decide how to unlock the state and facilitate people considering the prevalent COVID-19 crisis, Raut said.

"So, nobody should have a question in mind about whether one is Hindutvavadi or not. It only needs to be seen whether the government is being run as per the Constitution or not," the Rajya Sabha member said, without naming Koshyari.

Dont need your certificate for my Hindutva Uddhav Thackeray responds to Governor BS Koshyari over reopening religious places

File image of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. PTI

Raut also said that besides being the chief minister, Thackeray is the president of Shiv Sena and son of late Bal Thackeray, who had "propagated Hindutva in the country".

"Hence, Uddhav Thackeray or us need not take lessons on Hindutva. Our Hindutva is firm and based on a strong foundation," he said.

To a query on Koshyari asking Thackeray whether the chief minister has turned secular, Raut counter questioned whether Koshyari is not secular.

The Shiv Sena leader said the governor had taken the oath of the post remembering the secular Constitution.

Raut said people like him, "who are friends of the governor", will visit the latter to clear the illusion if he is receiving wrong information on the issue.

The Shiv Sena leader also said the chief minister's reply to the letter by the governor is a "historic" document.

Thackeray has set an ideal example by giving reply succinctly and humbly, observing limits of the Constitution and Hindutva, to the governor who "interfered in the work of a chief minister".

With inputs from PTI

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