Mumbai: Breaking his silence on the Hanuman Chalisa row that has seen a lawmaker couple being booked for sedition and BJP raising the Hindutva pitch, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said reciting the Chalisa at his home is not a problem but ‘dadgiri’ won’t be tolerated.
Thackeray, who heads Shiv Sena, launched a caustic attack on BJP without taking its name and claimed that those teaching him Hindutva were hiding in a “rat hole” when Babri Masjid was demolished.
“If you want to recite ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ at my home, do come. But approach with a proper method,” Thackeray said.
“But if you want to visit by ‘dadagiri’ (bullying), Balasaheb (the late Shiv Sena founder and his father) had taught us how to smash that ‘dadagiri’,” he said at the launch of the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) at the BEST headquarters here.
The NCMC card will enable Mumbaikars to travel via BEST buses currently. Later, the same card can be used for travelling in metro services, suburban trains, buses, cabs, auto-rickshaws, and also for other utilities.
Thackeray said Shiv Sena’s Hindutva is “Gadadhari”, a reference to Lord Hanuman who carries mace, while the Hindutva of opponents is “Ghantadhari” (bell-ringing).
Amravati MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana were arrested on Saturday after they gave a call for the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa outside Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’ in Mumbai, which had triggered angry protests by Shiv Sainiks.
The couple, now in jail, later withdrew their call, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mumbai for an event.
Police registered FIRs against them on charges of sedition and spreading enmity among other sections.
Earlier in the day, senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had said that if chanting Hanuman Chalisa is seditious then “every one of us here is ready to commit that crime”.
In a veiled attack, Thackeray questioned the contribution of the BJP towards Hindutva.
“Those who are teaching me Hindutva should ask themselves about their contribution to the cause of Hindutva. You were hiding in a rat hole when Babri (Masjid) was demolished (on December 6, 1992)”, Thackeray said.
He said the decision on the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was not taken by your (BJP’s) government but it was the Supreme Court that paved the way for the same.
“While constructing Ram temple too, you spread your hand in front of people. Then where is your Hindutva” he said.
“Shiv Sena’s Hindutva is ‘Gadadhari’ whereas your Hindutva is ‘Ghantadhari’. What do you mean when you say Shiv Sena has abandoned Hindutva? Is Hindutva a ‘dhotar’ (a garment worn by men which is tied around the waist) that is worn, draped and removed, ” Thackeray asked.
The Sena chief also said that he will address a public meeting soon to give a befitting reply to his detractors.
Some weak Hindutvawadis have surfaced. They are fake, neo-Hindus. They try to show ‘how your shirt is more saffron than mine’. This is their stomach-ache. I will have to give reply to them and I will do it, he said in an apparent dig at his estranged cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray.
Bal Thackeray had said that he didn’t want bell-ringing Hindutva, but the “terrorist hitting Hindutva, he said.
Referring to a stanza in the Marathi hymn of Lord Hanuman composed by saint-poet Samarth Ramdas, Thackeray said if attacked, the Sena won’t hesitate to become “maharudra” (aggressive).
Speaking at the same function, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said some people are trying to spoil the good atmosphere.
Suddenly, someone thinks of reciting Hanuman Chalisa at ‘Matoshree’. Why can’t you recite Hanuman Chalisa at your home? Do what you want to do in your home. Why are you spoiling the good atmosphere and creating a law and order issue,” he said.
While addressing the meeting, the chief minister also asked BEST’s general manager Lokesh Chandra to launch BEST’s premium orange bus service soon.
According to BEST officials, under the premium bus service some buses will be kept reserved and the passengers will be allowed to book seats through a mobile app.