Straining every sinew to prove that it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and not the Shiv Sena which was the real ‘Hindutva’ party, BJP’s Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, accusing him of forming a government with the Congress which had spoken against Lord Rama and questioned the existence of the mythical figure.
Speaking at the BJP’s ‘booster dose’ rally in Mumbai, Mr. Fadnavis asserted that Mr. Thackeray was not a true adherent of ‘Hindutva’.
“The [late Chief Minister] Kalyan Singh had sacrificed his government for Lord Rama when he refused to fire on the kar sevaks who demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. But you [Mr. Uddhav Thackeray] are sitting on the lap of those [the Congress and Rahul Gandhi] who have spoken against Lord Rama and questioned His existence,” said Mr. Fadnavis.
Stressing that “no Hindu can demolish a mosque”, the BJP leader said Babri was a symbol of a foreign invader (the Mughal Emperor Babur) which was not fit to be called a mosque, but a mere structure.
“I say with great pride we demolished the Babri, which was nothing but a mere structure. And I was there as well with the kar sevaks… Of the 32 people who were accused in the Babri demolition, there were no leaders from Maharashtra who are part of Mr. Uddhav Thackeray’s government today,” Mr. Fadnavis said, implying that the Sena had forsaken its Hindutva credentials once it allied with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.
Launching a broadside on Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Fadnavis said some people thought they were the State, but in reality they did not even have the right to call themselves a Hindu.
“You [Mr. Uddhav Thackeray] are not Maharashtra, nor Marathi not even a Hindu. But I don’t want to say this as I do not want to reduce the number of Hindus…Today, it is astonishing that chanting Hanuman Chalisa tantamounts to sedition in Maharashtra,” said the BJP leader, defending the Rana couple who were arrested after having announced that they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa in front of Mr. Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’.
“Had I been the Chief Minister, I would have allowed them to chant the Hanuman Chalisa in front of my house. The charge-sheet against MP Navneet Rana and her husband, MLA Ravi Rana mentions they were planning to overthrow this [MVA] government because they had threatened to recite the Hanuman Chalisa in front of the CM’s house. Now, my simple question is if one recites it, whose kingdom will be overthrown, Lord Rama’s or Ravana’s?” he said, taunting Mr. Thackeray.
The former BJP Chief Minister further said Maharashtra’s reputation was being tarnished with Mr. Thackeray’s Cabinet colleagues (Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik) going to jail.
Sena slams MNS chief
The Shiv Sena has slammed Raj Thackeray (Mr. Uddhav Thackeray’s estranged cousin) and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of playing divisive politics over the loudspeaker issue and raising the State’s political temperature, and the BJP of backing the MNS as its ‘B-team’.
While the BJP and the MNS are aggressively attempting to wrench the ‘Hindutva’ space from the Sena, the latter is mounting a stout defence.
Hitting out at the BJP, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, in an interview with a vernacular daily, accused the BJP, the Sena’s erstwhile ally, of deceiving his ‘gullible’ father, the late Sena founder Bal Thackeray, in the guise of donning ‘Hindutva’.
“You deceived Balasaheb because he was gullible…but I am shrewd. I am not going to get fooled by the BJP because I have seen through their tactics,” said Mr. Uddhav Thackeray.
Accusing the BJP of conspiring to divide Hindus in Maharashtra, the Chief Minister said that just as in West Bengal and in Kerala, the BJP was striving to prove the Maharashtra government as anti-Hindu.
He dismissed Mr. Raj Thackeray and his loudspeaker ultimatum, remarking that he did not ascribe much importance to “this new player of Hindutva.”
Remarking that Mr. Raj Thackeray used both the ‘Hindutva’ and the ‘Marathi card’ as per his convenience, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray dubbed his cousin ‘mere entertainment.’