BJP slams Sena leader’s Azan recital competition

BJP claims Shiv Sena has watered down Hindutva to remain in power

Sanjay JogUpdated: Tuesday, December 01, 2020, 09:16 AM IST
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Is Shiv Sena turning secular literally? The party leader Pandurang Sakpal has surprised Shivsainiks and attracted criticism from the BJP over his decision to attend the Azan (Adhan in Arabic) reciting competition in south Mumbai for children. Azan is an Islamic call delivered by a muezzin (the person who recites the Azan) from mosque five times a day.

Sakpal, who is Shiv Sena south Mumbai region chief, strongly defended his decision saying that Azan reading gives mental peace. ‘’The competition is being organised to inculcate Azan in the children of the Muslim community. It is wrong to oppose Azan reading,’’ he noted.

Sakpal’s move signals Shiv Sena’s journey from Hindutva to secularism which the party has agreed in its common minimum programme along with ruling partners NCP and Congress. Even though Shiv Sena President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has reiterated that the party has not left Hindutva and nobody should teach him that, Sakpal’s move aims at reaching out to the Muslim community ahead of the ensuing BMC elections slated for 2022.

“Azan is a feeling of one religion. Azan is very sweet, so it gives peace of mind. I live next to the big cemetery. That is why I hear it every day. If anyone is bothered by Azan reading, he should be ignored,’’ said Sakpal. He further stated that “Children who will recite Azan will be rewarded based on their pronunciation, voice and recitation. For this, Maulana will look after the work of the examiner. Shiv Sena will bear all the expenses of the competition.’’

Sakpal did not stop there but went on to add that ‘’Azan is as important as Maha Aarti. It is a symbol of love and peace. I don't think it's fair to argue about that." BJP has slammed Sakpal saying that his decision to hold competition for Azan reading clearly shows how Shiv Sena has deviated from its original principles after coming to power. Leader of opposition in the state council Praveen Darekar claimed that Shiv Sena in a bid to stick to the power has watered down its Hindutva.

After attack from opposition Sakpal clarified that the competition is being organized by the Foundation For You and not by Shiv Sena. " They had come to inform me about the competition. Due to Coronavirus pandemic aid urged the organisers to take the competition online and not in person. I wished them for their initiative. While wishing them there was no political or religious intention. So please do not politicise the issue," he noted.

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