Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday responded sharply to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter on reopening religious places in the state amid the coronavirus crisis. 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, the Hindustan Times reported.
In his letter to Thackeray on Monday, Koshyari had questioned his decision to keep religious places in the state closed. “You have been a strong votary of Hindutva,” Koshyari told Thackeray, according to a copy of the letter accessed by ANI. “You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as chief minister. You had visited the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi.”
The governor told Thackeray that it was ironic to allow bars and restaurants to open while “our Gods and Goddesses have been condemned to stay in the lockdown”. Koshyari added: “I wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening of places of worship time and again or have you turned ‘secular’ yourselves, a term you hated?”
The governor also said that religious places in other parts of the country had already opened. “I may mention that places of worship were reopened in Delhi on 8th of June and across the nation sometimes towards the end of June,” he said. “There have not been reports of a surge in Covid-19 cases from any of these places.” He requested Thackeray to allow religious places to open with necessary precautions.
Thackeray’s reply was equally terse. “Do you mean that opening up religious places is Hindutva, and not opening them means being secular,” he was quoted as asking by the Hindustan Times. “Secularism is a crucial base of the oath you took as Governor. Do you not believe it?”
The chief minister 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.
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 row 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.
Thackeray told the governor that he was considering demands to open religious places but his priority was the safety of the people. Maharashtra is the state with the maximum coronavirus in India. The state’s tally rose to 15,35,315 on Monday and its toll went up to 40,514.