Other States

Maharashtra Governor’s residence has become BJP’s office, says Congress chief Nana Patole

File photo of Nana Patole   | Photo Credit: Pritimaya Tripathy

Launching a broadside against the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole on August 1 charged the BJP with distorting history while accusing Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari of being a “BJP stooge” and his official residence, the Raj Bhavan, a “virtual office for the party”.

He further lashed out at the Modi regime for severely curtailing the press, claiming that the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had extended a lot of freedom towards the fourth estate despite getting flak from it in the alleged Bofors Gun scandal.

“Recently, the State’s Governor Koshyari commented that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who was responsible for Partition in 1947…ordinarily, if one were to talk of Pandit Nehru’s towering contributions in building the modern Indian nation, even 10 days would be less. But when the Governor of a State, who is supposed to be the holder of an impartial office, says such a thing, it is truly shameful…the Governor is behaving like a BJP agent and his residence is functioning like a veritable BJP office,” Mr. Patole said.

He was speaking in Pune at the historic Kesari Wada building on occasion of the launch of a series of programmes to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee year of Independence and the Congress’ pivotal role in the freedom struggle. The fortnight-long event, titled Vyarth na ho Balidan (Sacrifice should not go in vain), has been designed by the Maharashtra Congress with the object of raising awareness of the Congress’ role in Independence while simultaneously reviving the party’s sagging fortunes at the civic and regional level in the State.

Mr. Patole said that when Bal Gangadhar ‘Lokmanya’ Tilak was charged with sedition and later arrested for criticising the British rule through his newspaper Kesari (which he ran from Kesari Wada), he was speaking out against alien oppression.

“But now, an Indian government [Modi regime] clamps down on the country’s journalists for voicing dissent. Look what happened to the Dainik Bhaskar media group…the Modi government conducts surveillance on any journalist who criticises the government. That person is subsequently investigated and even accused of ‘seditious behaviour’,” Mr. Patole said, adding there was no difference between the Modi government and the British Raj.

He said that Rajiv Gandhi, who had empowered the press, had been severely criticised for his conduct in the Bofors scandal.

“The press has a right to criticise whosoever is in power…Rajiv Gandhi had given the press its freedom, but Modi has curtailed it. At the time of the alleged scam, the BJP had vehemently criticised Mr. Gandhi…but when the party under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership won the Kargil War, let us not forget that the Army top brass had attributed the victory to the firepower of these very same Bofors guns,” said the MPCC chief.

Chinese aggression

He said that the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister preferred to keep mum on China’s aggression and refused to answer sensitive questions from journalists pertaining to the conduct of foreign policy.

Asserting that the Modi regime was destroying the country’s pluralist social fabric while utterly undermining its democratic values, Mr. Patole said: “I was in Srinagar recently when a Muslim UPSC topper told me frankly that he was being discriminated by the Centre on the basis of his religion. I was shocked…The Modi government has no right to talk of democracy.”

Hence, Mr. Patole said, the Congress had launched this campaign to make the younger generations aware of the sacrifices of thousands of youths and great leaders of the Congress which culminated in Independence.

Commenting on the nature of the 15-day programme, Pune City Congress Secretary and spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said that events would take place at district level across the State.

“The aim is to enlighten youngsters and counter the BJP and the RSS’ false propaganda…to this end, we have put up hoardings across the city highlighting seminal historical events where Congress leaders played a central part,” he said.

Mr. Iyer said that a torch rally would be held on August 9 to commemorate the ‘Quit India Movement’ of 1942 which was launched on that day.

“Narayan Dabhade, a 16-year-old boy, who attempted to hoist the tricolour in historic Congress Bhavan in Pune had been shot dead by the police. So, on August 9 next week, we are going to recreate the same scene as part of our cultural programmes. Besides, there will be a short film contest, while a film will be telecast depicting the various agitations of the Congress along with a photo exhibition,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 8:37:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-governors-residence-has-become-bjps-office-says-congress-chief-nana-patole/article35663056.ece

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