Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has drawn flak from across parties for a statement he made Friday, claiming Mumbai will not remain the financial capital of the country without Gujaratis and Rajasthanis. The comment was criticised even by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of which Koshiyari had been a senior leader before becoming Maharashtra Governor.
The Shiv Sena termed it an “insult to the Marathi manoos and to Marathi pride”, while the rebel Shiv Sena camp under the leadership of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the governor’s statement is an “insult to the state”. The BJP distanced itself from Koshyari’s statement saying it was “not the official line of the party.”
Following the backlash, the governor’s office issued a statement Saturday claiming he was “misunderstood” and that he never meant to belittle the contribution of Marathi people.
Former CM, Uddhav Thackeray said, however, that he didn’t agree with this explanation and that the Governor should apologise to Marathi people and Maharashtra, “else he should be sent back”. Koshyari is originally from Uttarakhand.
Thackeray had earlier said that the Governor had “insulted the Marathi manoos and marathi pride and tried to divide Hindus. He has done this shameful act of creating tensions between Hindus. He has given this statement in order to polarise the upcoming elections.”
Koshyari had been addressing an event in Mumbai’s Andheri, when he said “If Gujaratis and Rajasthanis are removed from Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, no money would be left here. Mumbai would not be able to remain the financial capital of the country.”
This is not the first controversial statement to be made by the Maharashtra Governor since he assumed office in September 2019.
Criticism against Koshyari
Leaders across parties criticised the Governor’s statement Friday.
Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson of the Shinde faction of Shiv Sena, said the “Governor’s statement has insulted the state. It is a constitutional post and hence the CM has the right to go to the centre with the complaint against him. And so Eknath Shinde can send a letter to the Centre to ask (the) Governor to not repeat such a thing again.”
The statement was also criticised by Supriya Sule, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP and daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
“The statement of the Governor is belittling Marathi people. As a Marathi, I strongly object to his statements. For the same Mumbai, in the fight for Samyukta Maharashtra, 105 martyrs laid their lives. He should be sent back to Uttarakhand,” said Sule.
Senior Congress leaders like Balasaheb Thorat also reacted strongly to the Governor’s statement.
“His statements should be measured and not divisive. Unfortunately, everytime his actions and words have never been of any benefit to the state. Today’s statement is unfortunate and unnecessary. Whoever has come to this state, city be it Gujarati or Rajasthani is of Maharashtra and there is a brotherhood amongst people. He is trying to disturb this brotherhood and it is very unfortunate,” said Thorat.
The Governor even drew flak from the BJP. Devendra Fadnavis said that this is not the line of BJP and for the making of Maharashtra, many Marathi people have worked hard.
Responding to the criticism Koshyari said in the statement released by the Governor’s office that “I had no intention to look down upon Marathi people. I merely spoke about the contribution of Gujarati and Rajasthani people. It is the Marathi population which has developed Maharashtra to its present position. There is no question of demeaning Marathi people… But my statement was misconstrued, like always.”
In the past, Koshyari has landed himself in controversy for purportedly mocking the child marriage of 19th-century social refomers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule and also drew flak when he said that Samarth Ramdas was Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s guru — a theory which is debatable as it is suggestive of supremacy of Brahmins over non-Brahmins.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)