Have you turned secular: Maharashtra Governor asks Uddhav Thackeray for not reopening temples

Koshyari wrote to the Chief Minister questioning why temples were still shut in the state while other activities like ‘bars and restaurants’ were allowed. The CM hit back saying he took decisions in the best interests of the people.

Maharashtra: Guv Bhagat Singh Koshyari and CM Uddhav Thackeray in unholy row over reopening of temples
MUMBAI: Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has questioned the Mahararashtra government's decision not to reopen temples asking Uddhav Thackeray whether he "turned secular", but the chief minister hit back saying he did not need a Hindutva certificate from him.

It started with Koshyari, on Monday, writing a scathing letter to the Chief Minister questioning why temples were still shut in the state while other activities like ‘bars and restaurants’ were allowed. "Our gods and goddesses have been condemned to stay under lockdown," he said in his letter.

The Governor reminded Thackeray that the latter has been a strong votary of Hindutva, saying, “ You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as the chief Minister. You had visited the Vithhal Rukmini Mandi in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadi Ekadashi."

Raising eyebrows of Constitution experts, the Governor went on to ask whether Thackeray had abandoned his Hindutva and adopted ‘secularism’.

“ I wonder whether you have receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening of the places of worship time and again or have you suddenly turned ‘secular’ yourselves, the term you hated?,” Koshyari wrote.

The Governor wrote that places of worship were reopened in Delhi on June 8 and in other places across the country on June 3.

Thackeray wrote back on Tuesday an even scathing letter saying that the state’s primary duty is to look after the citizen’s health and welfare and opening up abruptly would not be in the best interests of the people.

The CM said he did not need a certificate of Hindutva from the Governor, and slammed him saying, “ Welcoming a person in my home who has described the capital of my state as PoK does not fall under my definition of Hindutva," the reference being to the visit of actor Kangana Ranaut.

Reminding Koshyari that the oath he took as governor of the state was on the Constitution, Thackeray asked: “ Do you not accept secularism that is an important part of the Constitution."

Constitution experts disapproved of the governor’s letter. Ulhas Bapat told ET, “the governor has crossed his limits. He is to work on the advice of the chief minister. He has also not understood the meaning of secularism. I think he has lowered the prestige of the governor.”

Former advocate general Shrihari Aney said, “if this is a letter from the governor, then I find it surprising. The governor, who is the constitutional head of the state, is critical of a CM, the constitutional head of a democratically-elected government, for exhibiting what the governor considers are secular tendencies.”

The governor had attached three representation for opening temples immediately in the state, but Thackeray mockingly pointed it was a "coincidence" that they were "all from the BJP". The CM however said he would look into the issue and take a decision soon.

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