The Chief Minister versus Governor row in Maharashtra continued on the day of Dussehra today, as Uddhav Thackeray hit back at Bhagat Singh Koshyari in his Vijayadashami address, advising him to follow the speech of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Holding up the RSS chief’s definition of Hindutva as an yardstick, he also issued a warning – “If anyone wants to challenge us, do it at your risk”.
“We are being asked questions on Hindutva because we have not opened temples yet,” Mr Thackeray said without naming the Governor.
“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?” Mr Thackeray said, hitting back with one of the most controversial issues on which critics have accused the BJP of having double standards.
Citing the views of Mohan Bhagwat, who leads the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Chief Minister said, “Mohan Bhagwat today said Hindutva is not linked only to pujas. So people wearing black cap and questioning our beliefs and calling us secular should listen to Bhagwat’s speech today”.
In a further twist, he added, “People who believe and follow him (Mr Koshyari), wear a black cap. If you have brain beneath it, at least follow him (Mohan Bhagwat) and his statements today”.
Talking of misconceptions in his Vijayadashami address this morning, Mr Bhagwat had said the meaning of Hindutva “has been distorted by appending a ritualistic connotation to it”.
“Sangh does not use it to refer to this misconception. To us, it is the word expressing our identity along with the continuity of its spirituality-based traditions and its entire wealth of value system in the land of Bharat,” he had added.
The subject of opening places of worship had set off an acrimonious exchange between the Chief Minister and Governor earlier this month, with Mr Koshyari, on a sarcastic note, questioning if Mr Thackeray had “turned secular”.
“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?” Mr Koshyari’s letter read.
The Governor also called it “ironical” that bars, restaurants and beaches were allowed to open in the state but “our Gods and Goddesses have been condemned to stay in the lockdown”.
Uddhav Thackeray shot back that he did not need a Hindutva certificate from anyone and would take a call on the issue after careful consideration.
Mr Koshyari’s is the latest in a line of Governors and Lieutenant Governors at odds with the Chief Ministers of opposition-ruled states and Union Territories.
The list includes Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and his predecessor Najeeb Jung in Delhi and Kiran Bedi in Puducherry.
In Bengal, Jagdeep Dhankar is a strong critic of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the two have recurrent rows on Twitter.
Mr Koshyari’s letter on October 13 — a day that the BJP organised protests — has amplified the argument that the Governor’s office is pushing the BJP’s agenda.