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Congress accuses Maharashtra BJP of ‘insulting’ Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Modi




Hitting out at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for a party MLA’s demand to shut down all ‘madrasas’ in the state, the Maharashtra Congress on Saturday accused the state BJP of “insulting” the stand of its own leaders like former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“In their overenthusiasm to target the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, defame Maharashtra and Mumbai, the state BJP leaders seem to have lost their mental balance. Now, they are denigrating their own leaders with such statements,” state Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.

Referring to a demand by BJP legislator Atul Bhatkalkar, challenging Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to close down ‘madrasas’ or Islamic schools to prove his ‘Hindutva’ credentials, the Congress said this goes contrary to the PM’s slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’.

Sawant said that in August 2001, then HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi had said that late PM Vajpayee had no intentions of meddling with the ‘madrasas’, and even suggested that besides religious topics, modern subjects like science, maths, social sciences and general knowledge should be included in their syllabi.

In February 2002, Joshi had said that the Centre was providing financial assistance to over a thousand ‘madrasas’.

“When Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the BJP Election Manifesto in the 2012 state polls had promised to modernise all ‘madrasas’; in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP mentioned a similar agenda for ‘madrasas’ twice,” he added.

He claimed that in June 2019, Union Minister for Minority Development Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too had announced measures to improve and modernise the ‘madrasas’ by imparting training to the teachers in Hindi and English languages, and even computers.

“The state BJP has forgotten that PM Modi had spelt out his vision for Muslim youths holding Quran in one hand and computer in the other, along with his famed slogan,” Sawant pointed out.

He asked BJP President JP Nadda and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil to categorically declare whether the PM’s slogan was merely “a poll plank” against the backdrop of Bhatkalkar’s demands, or take action against him for insulting its own party leaders and speaking out against the party policy on ‘madrasas’.

“It would have been better if Bhatkalkar had consulted party seniors before making such a demand to shut down ‘madrasas’ in the state, given the historical background,” Sawant added.


Anybody with self-respect would quit: Sharad Pawar attacks Maharashtra Governor




In a direct attack on Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said on Monday that “anybody with self-respect” would not continue in the post.

Replying to a question on the recent ‘letter-war’ that erupted between Koshyari and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Pawar said: “Anyone with self-respect will not continue in the post. Who are we to make any demands (for his removal).”

He pointed out that even Union Home Minister Amit Shah had taken umbrage at Koshyari’s letter to the CM by making it clear that the use of certain words could have been avoided by the Governor.

“After Shah’s statement, anyone with self-respect would take a call on whether to continue in the (Governor’s) post,” said Pawar, a week after the letter war fuelled the uneasy relations between the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and the Raj Bhavan.

In fact, Pawar had last week shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi complaining about the Governor and later Shah made the statements expressing his displeasure over Koshyari’s language.

The NCP chief’s statement came a day after Shiv Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut lauded Shah’s comments and even signalled an end to the controversy.

Koshyari had written a letter to Thackeray on October 12 on the issue of reopening of places of worship in the state, questioning Thackeray’s “Hindutva credentials” and whether the CM had suddenly become “secular”.

Thackeray hit back by saying that he did not need a ‘Hindutva’ certificate from anybody, but assured to take the appropriate decision in the matter of reopening places of worship taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic scourge in which Maharashtra still ranks first in the country.

The letter war was strongly criticised by the MVA partners Sena-NCP-Congress, prompting Shah’s intervention and attempt to defuse the fracas with his comments in a television interview on Saturday.

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Supreme Court to Maharashtra government: Can Nanded Gurudwara procession be held at 5 a.m.?




The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to examine whether the Nanded Gurudwara can be allowed to hold Dussehra festivities and the Guru Granth Sahib procession at 5 a.m., with limited gathering.

A vacation bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi said the Maharashtra state disaster management authority (SDMA) should take decision in the matter in the backdrop of the Covid-19 scenario.

The order has come on a plea filed by the Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board, which sought permission for Dussehra, Takht Isnan, Deepmala and Gurta Gaddi events. The board cited these events are three centuries-old custom maintained by the Gurudwara.

Advocate Praveen Chaturvedi, representing the petitioner, contended the state government has already allowed marriages with 50 people in attendance, and his client is not asking for public participation instead the procession, on a limited route, can be allowed with 40 to 50 people.

The bench queried who will control if the procession is on the road?

The bench noted that state government is saying there is a health risk in the backdrop of people affected in Nanded and added that in Puri there were restrictions but many people turned up.

Chaturvedi further clarified that his client has reduced the procession route to 1.5 km and they will use a truck on which Granth Sahib will be kept and the proceedings will be live telecast.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, cited the MHA August 29 order which allowed religious/political/social functions from September 21 and September 30 guidelines allowing gathering of up to 100 persons outside containment zones subject to conditions.

Mehta suggested that the procession br 1.5km, they could consider holding it between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., so that people other than those participating in the ritual are not involved.

The top court also asked the state government whether it could impose a curfew like the one which was imposed in Puri for the Jagannath Yatra procession.

The Maharashtra government in its affidavit has informed the top court that Dussehra procession will not be a “practically feasible option” amid COVID-19, as it has hit the state worst, and the government has taken a conscious decision to not allow religious functions.

The bench said would giving permission to one festival will lead to giving permission to others? Mehta said this was not a festival celebrated across Maharashtra, rather it is only restricted to Nanded and also to in a community with small numbers.

The Maharashtra government counsel said the state is genuinely concerned regarding public health, which is a state subject. The counsel added that the government’s experience has shown that these 50-60 people congregation is not possible, as greater number of people will turn up and added the government did not permit even the popular Ganapathi festival procession.

Concluding the hearing, the bench asked the state government can’t you have the procession at 5 a.m.?

The Maharashtra government counsel replied the petitioner should file representation before the state disaster management authority. The bench noted that it was something where the court cannot interfere, especially when the state is saying it is difficult.

The bench asked the SDMA to decide on the representation by Nanded gurudwara management board by Tuesday and told the petitioner they can move the Bombay High Court, if not satisfied.

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After Amit Shah ‘frowns’ at Maharashtra Governor, Shiv Sena says issue over




A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah indicated disapproval of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on reopening of temples, the state’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi on Sunday expressed satisfaction and said the matter would be now “closed”.

Shiv Sena chief Spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut told media persons that Shah is the country’s Home Minister, and speaks with caution and responsibility.

Besides, the Raj Bhavans and the office of Governor is a Constitutional post which come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, he added.

“The Governor’s letter, followed by the CM’s reply, created an avoidable controversy, which we haven’t started. However, we are satisfied with Shah’s stand in the matter. We thank him for understanding the reasons behind our anger,” Raut said, signalling an end to the embarrassing “letter-war”.

Asked about the controversy, Shah, in a TV interview on Saturday evening, said: “I have read the letter. He (Governor) has made a passing reference. I believe some restraint could have been exercised.”

Koshyari’s letter to Thackeray on October 12, followed by the Chief Minister’s reply the next morning, had sparked off a massive political furore with the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress targeting the Governor and several leaders seeking his dismissal.

In a strongly-worded letter, NCP President Sharad Pawar complained about the Governor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that same evening.

The next day (October 14), the Congress, in a press conference in New Delhi, lashed out at Koshyari, seeking to know that since he is also holding charge as Governor of Goa, why has he not written a similar letter to the Goa Chief Minister on the issue of reopening of temples.

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