Tussle Between Ex-allies Deepens with Hanuman Chalisa Row

Once strong allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are now at loggerheads in Maharashtra, with the Hanuman Chalisa row deepening the rift. Justifying arrest of MP-MLA couple Navneet and Ravi Rana, state home minister Dilip Walse Patil said that Mumbai police did what was within the law and stressed that the Supreme Court has issued guidelines that need to be followed. However, senior BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis slammed the Uddhav Thackeray government as the “most intolerant in the history of Maharashtra”.

“Some political parties have set a deadline for loudspeakers. I had called a meeting for it. But BJP didn’t come. Maharashtra government has decided to do everything to maintain law and order. Loudspeakers are used as per the state norms and rules of the Supreme Court. The state government can’t and won’t decide on removal of loudspeakers,” Patil said.

At a press conference, the minister further said, “There’s a row over azaan. If we decide on Muslim prayer call, then what impact will it have on other religious functions? We have Ganpati festival, Navratri; there’s also ‘aarti’ and ‘bhajan’ in rural areas. Can’t take separate decisions for each function. Rules can’t be made separately for different religions. The decision on loudspeakers is by the a[ex court and it is applicable for whole country. So, Centre should decide and form laws applicable for all states.”

Reacting to Maharashtra government’s allegations, Devendra Fadnavis, in a separate press conference, said, “We received an invitation from Maharashtra home minister for an all-party meeting on Monday, but we didn’t go in view of what has happened in last few days. If someone has taken the role of Hitler, we felt it’s better to fight instead of communicate.”

Attacking chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for skipping the meeting called by his government, Fadnavis further said, “Whatever is happening in Mumbai is happening at the behest of the CM. In such a situation, if the CM himself is not present in today’s meeting, then what is the use of it?”

The loudspeaker row has taken new turn since Saturday after independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana were arrested on Saturday after they gave a call for the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’ in Mumbai, which had triggered angry protests by Shiv Sainiks. The Mumbai Police later slapped the sedition charge on the politician couple. On Sunday, a Mumbai court remanded the Rana couple in 14-day judicial custody.

Meanwhile, CM Uddhav, speaking to ANI, said “we know how to counter dadagiri“, adding that he would hold a rally soon. “I will take care of fake Hindus. I will hold a rally very soon.”

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