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'Turned Secular, a Term You Hated?' It's Maha Guv vs Thackeray in 'Letter War' Over Reopening of Temples

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray greets Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari during a meeting at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on May 1, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray greets Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari during a meeting at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on May 1, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Taking strong objection to his words, Thackeray replied to Koshyari a day later, saying that he doesn't need lessons on Hindutva from anyone. He also slammed Koshyari for entertaining actor Kangana Ranaut.

A 'letter battle' ensued between Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and governor BS Koshyari on Tuesday over reopening of religious places during the 'unlocking' process amid coronavirus. As Koshyari questioned the CM's "sudden secularism", Thackeray was quick to hit back with "don't need Hindutva lessons from anyone" message.

The Maharashtra governor had on Monday written to Thackeray reminding him of his devotion for Lord Rama that resulted in CM's Ayodhya visit after taking charge of the state, the trip to Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi.

Calling Thackeray a "strong votary of Hindutva", the governor said that he is wondering if the CM is "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 wrote in his sarcastic letter.

Taking strong objection to his words, Thackeray replied to Koshyari a day later, saying he doesn't need lessons on Hindutva from anyone. He also slammed the governor for entertaining actor Kangana Ranaut.

Thackeray informed Koshyari that a decision on reopening places of religious worship will be taken after careful consideration of the Covid-19 situation in the state. He added that the state government will consider the governor's request to reopen these places.

In his letter, Koshyari had mentioned that he has received three representations from delegations demanding that places of religious worship be reopened. In response, Thackeray pointed out that it was a coincidence that all the three letters Koshyari mentioned were from BJP office-bearers and supporters.

Responding to the question on 'secularism', Thackeray wondered if to Koshyari Hindutva meant merely reopening places of religious worship and if not opening them was to him being secular.

"Isn't secularism a key component of the Constitution, by which you swore while taking oath as the state governor," Thackeray said. "While considering the sentiments and beliefs of the people, it is also important to take care of their lives and it is wrong to impose and lift lockdown suddenly," he said in the letter.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said Koshyari should only see whether Maharashtra is being run as per the Constitution or not and there is a people-elected government in place to look after rest of the things. Speaking to reporters in the wake of Koshyari writing to Thackeray on reopening places of worship, Raut said the Shiv Sena's Hindutva is firm and based on strong foundation and they don't need lessons on it.

Latching on to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that the threat of COVID-19 still persists, Raut said in view of the health concern, it is Thackeray's responsibility to take care of people's safety, and the governor should have appreciated the chief minister for doing so diligently.

Raut said beside being the chief minister, Thackeray is the president of Shiv Sena and son of late Bal Thackeray who had "propagated Hindutva in the country". "Hence, Uddhav Thackeray or us need not take lessons on Hindutva. Our Hindutvais firm and based on a strong foundation," he said.

An RSS veteran, Koshyari has been BJP's vice president and first president of that party's unit in Uttarakhand, where he also served as chief minister.


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