Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on Saturday said Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari could have chosen his words better in his letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on reopening places of worship amid the coronavirus pandemic, News18 reported.
In his letter to Thackeray on Monday, Koshyari had questioned his decision to keep religious places in the state closed. 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?”
Shah deplored Koshyari’s language. “He [governor] has made a passing reference, but I also believe that he [governor] could have avoided the selection of those particular words,” the Union home minister told News18.
In response to Koshyari, Thackeray had said that he did not need a certificate of Hindutva from anyone.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that with Shah’s remark, the Shiv Sena has put the matter to rest. “The governor’s letter followed by the chief minister’s reply was an unavoidable controversy and we haven’t started it,” he said. “But, we are satisfied with the Union Home Minister’s stand and thank him for understanding the reason of our anger.”
However, Raut dismissed speculation that Shah’s comments were aimed at ending the political impasse between his party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, a former ally of the Shiv Sena. “There is nothing political,” Raut said. “What Shah spoke [of] was in line with the Constitution of India.”
The Maharashtra government has allowed bars and restaurants to operate at 50% capacity in the state from October 5. It had previously allowed reopening of outdoor sports activities, all non-essential shops and inter-district travel without restrictions. However, it has cited overcrowding as the reason for not allowing places of worship to reopen.
Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus cases of all states in India. As of Saturday, the state had reported 1,90,192 active cases and 41,502 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.