Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, saying those questioning the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva should know that his party’s definition of the ideology does not involve “clanging bells and utensils”, The Times of India reported.
“We are being asked about Hindutva, that why are we not reopening temples in the state,” Thackeray said, referring to an acrimonious exchange between him and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari over the opening of temples in the state. In a two-page letter Koshyari had asked Thackeray if he had turned “secular” since he had denied permission to reopen the temples in the state amid the coronavirus crisis. In response, Thackeray retorted that he did not need a “Hindutva certificate” from anyone.
“They say my Hindutva is different from that of Balasaheb Thackeray,” the chief minister added during a speech on the occasion of Dussehra in Mumbai. “Your Hindutva is about clanging bells and utensils, our Hindutva is not like that.”
When Modi announced a countrywide lockdown to tackle the coronavirus in March, the prime minister suggested that Indians should assemble at their windows or on their balconies and clap their hands, ring bells or beat on vessels to send a clamorous message of appreciation towards all the professionals – nurses, doctors, cleaners, transport workers, police personnel and others – who have been helping in tackling the pandemic.
Sharpening his attack on Modi’s government, Thackeray added that those questioning his party’s Hindutva “were hiding with tail between their legs when Babri mosque was demolished”, PTI reported.
The chief minister also dared the Bharatiya Janata Party to topple his 11-month-old government in Maharashtra, which he runs in alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. Thackeray added that instead of hatching political conspiracies, the BJP should “pay more attention to the country”.
The Shiv Sena leader further mocked the Bharatiya Janata Party for promising free coronavirus vaccines to the people of Bihar in its manifesto for the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.
“You promise free Covid-19 vaccine in Bihar, then are people of other states from Bangladesh or Kazakhstan,” Thackeray asked.
The Maharashtra chief minister also urged the prime minister to acknowledge that his Goods and Services Tax regime was a failure and asked him to revert to the old tax system. A controversy had erupted after state governments and the Centre clashed over the options proposed by the central government to make up for the shortfall in the Goods and Services Tax collection due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Centre had then on August 30 formally proposed two options for borrowings to meet the shortfall and given states seven days to choose one of them. The first option is to provide a special borrowing window to states, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, to provide Rs 97,000 crore at a reasonable interest rate. The other option is to meet the entire GST compensation gap of Rs 2.35 lakh crore this year itself after consulting the central bank.
States governments had decried the move, rejected it and said it was against “spirit of cooperative federalism”.
On October 15, the Union Ministry of Finance departed from its stance that state governments should undertake market borrowings to make up for the loss of revenue and agreed to borrow Rs 1.1 lakh crore under a special window to meet the shortfall.
On Sushant Singh Rajput’s death
Thackeray also spoke about the controversy surrounding the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and accused the BJP of mudslinging his son Aaditya Thackeray. The chief minister said that by dragging his son’s name into the case, the saffron party had indulged in “the character assassination of Maharashtra’s son”.
Rajput was found dead in his apartment in Bandra on June 14, in what the Mumbai Police said was a case of suicide. The actor’s death was a centre of a political tussle between the governments of Maharashtra and Bihar, before it was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation on the recommendation of Nitish Kumar’s government.