Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today spoke up on the Hanuman Chalisa controversy, with a warning to the BJP and the jailed MP-MLA couple they are backing. Independent MP Navneet Rana and her husband, Independent MLA Ravi Rana were arrested on Saturday when they insisted on reciting the Hanuman Chalisa outside Mr Thackeray’s home amid the political battle over use of loudspeakers for azaans. The BJP has accused the ruling Shiv Sena of over-reacting.
“You want to come home to chant Hanuman Chalisa, you’re welcome… But if you do Dadagiri, then we know how to break it up. The Shiv Sena chief (Bal Thackeray) has taught us that through Hindutva,” Mr Thackeray said today amid the controversy that has mushroomed ahead of the elections to the hugely rich civic body of Mumbai.
His home, Mr Thackeray said, has always been frequented by sadhus since the days of his father Bal Thackeray. “They used to come when Balasaheb was alive. They still come home,” he added.
The BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis — who skipped an all-party meeting on the issue today — has alleged that the police action against the Ranas is “Hitlershahi”.
“This is happening at the CM’s instructions,” he said. “If hanuman Chalisa is not chanted in Maharashtra will it be chanted in Pakistan? If reciting Hanuman Chalisa is sedition, then all of us will indulge in this sedition and if the government has the guts, it should charge us for sedition,” he added.
The Bombay High Court today supported the state action against the Ranas, saying it was “justified in its apprehension that it could create a law-and-order problem”.
“A declaration that a person would recite religious verses at another person’s place or at a public place is a breach of the personal liberty of the other person… With great power comes great responsibility (and) persons in public life are expected to act responsibly,” the judges added, rejecting Navneet Rana’s plea to quash the case against her.
The Ranas face charges of sedition and promoting enmity between groups by their statements. Navneet Rana has also been accused of stopping the police from doing their duty. Their bail plea comes up on Friday.