The issue of reopening temples took a serious turn after Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray engaged in a war of words over the same.
Responding to a letter by Koshyari, Thackeray on Tuesday wrote to the Governor, saying that a decision on reopening of places worship will be taken only after careful consideration of the COVID-19 situation in the state.
On Monday, Koshyari wrote a scathing letter to the Chief Minister questioning why temples were still shut in the state. Koshyari had mentioned that he has received three representations from delegations demanding that places of worship be reopened. "It is ironic that while on one hand, the State government has permitted the opening of bars, restaurants and beaches, on the other hand, our Gods and Goddesses have been condemned to stay in the lockdown," Koshyari wrote in his letter.
"You have been a strong votary of Hindutva. You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as the Chief Minister. You had visited the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi. I wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening of the places of worships time and again or have you suddenly turned 'secular' yourself, the term you hated?" Governor Koshyari asked Uddhav.
Replying to the Governor, Thackeray said it was a coincidence that all the three letters Koshyari mentioned were from BJP office-bearers and supporters. "Received your letter asking for reopening of all places of worship. The state government is thinking about this. But we do care about the lives of people of Maharashtra. The way we imposed lockdown slowly it is necessary to lift the lockdown slowly. We are taking all care in the battle against coronavirus by implementing health campaigns and making people aware about it," Maharashtra Chief Minister wrote in his reply to Governor.
While responding to Governor's "Have you suddenly turned secular" question, Thackeray wondered if to Koshyari, Hindutva meant merely reopening places of worship and not opening them meant being secular.
"You have mentioned my stand of 'Hindutva' in the letter, but I don't need a certificate of 'Hindutva' from you and don't need to learn it from anyone else. Person who calls my state or Mumbai as POK, I don't welcome such people at home. That's not my 'Hindutva'. In the letter you also said, 'Have you suddenly turned ‘Secular’ yourself, the term you hated?' But I want to ask you that if reopening of places of worship means 'Hindutva'? And not reopening them means a person is 'Secular'? You have taken oath as a Governor and in the oath the word secularism is very crucial. Don't you agree with Secularism?" Thackeray further said in the letter.